Resource Use

Enva launches wind turbine blade recycling service

Recycling and resource recovery company Enva has rolled out a new solution to recycle wind turbine blades following a successful trial at Enva’s facility in Ayrshire.

Wind turbine bladesThe decommissioned turbine blades are crushed and shredded to enable the recovery of recyclable materials such as steel. The residual material is then used as a replacement for traditional fossil fuels in EfW (energy from waste) facilities. To aid processing and transportation, specialist equipment is used to cut down the blades into three 50-metre lengths prior to delivery to Enva’s recycling facility.

New figures from National Grid have revealed that for the first time ever, wind power supplied over a quarter of the UK’s electricity in 2022. With over 11,000 wind turbines in operation, the UK now has the sixth-largest capacity of any country in the world. The majority of the wind turbines have been installed both offshore and onshore, resulting in a total installed capacity of 28 gigawatts. Enva has estimated that around 14,000 wind turbine blades will be decommissioned across Europe by 2023.

Although recycling techniques for 85 to 90 per cent off a wind turbine, such as the foundation and tower, has already been established, the blades are more challenging to recycle due to the composite materials used in their production. While various technologies exist that can be used to recycle blades, these solutions are not yet widely available and cost-competitive.

Michelle Scott, Operations Director at Enva, said: “Enva is committed to bringing at least one new recycling process to market every year, and the opening of our wind turbine blade recycling facility is another tangible example of this innovation and investment.

“The increased use of alternative energy sources will result in new waste streams which will each require managing in a way that enables us to unlock their circular economy and commercial value. We look forward to continuing to work with the Wind Sector and other energy companies to help them realize these benefits.”

The UK and Europe are expected to decommission 25,000 tonnes of wind turbine blades per year by 2025, with this figure expected to rise to 52,000 tonnes by 2030. This new recycling solution from Enva will not only help the UK and Europe to meet the challenge of decommissioning wind turbines but will also promote a more sustainable and circular approach to managing waste streams.

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