A memorandum of understanding will see companies focus on exploring ‘circular economy solutions’. Business practices related to the notion of circular economy have gained ground in recent years, with many businesses around the world seeking to operate in a way that minimizes waste.
In a statement released Thursday, the companies added that they were exploring “new ways to recycle wind blades, including as a building material to build new wind farms.”
The plans announced this week build on an already existing relationship between the two companies. Last June, GE Renewable Energy announced its intention to partner with LafargeHolcim and another company, COBOD International, to develop wind turbines using 3D printed concrete bases.
The question of what to do with wind turbine blades when they are no longer needed is a puzzle for the industry. This is because the composite materials used in their production can be difficult to recycle, with many blades ending up in landfill at the end of their lifespan.
As governments around the world try to increase their renewable energy capacity, the number of wind turbines on the planet is only growing. This in turn will increase the pressure on the industry to find sustainable solutions to the elimination of blades.
In recent years, major wind energy players have announced plans to try to tackle the problem. As recently as last week, Danish company Orsted said it would “reuse, recycle or salvage” all turbine blades from its global portfolio of wind farms once they are taken out of service.
In April, it was announced that a collaboration between universities and industry would focus on recycling fiberglass products, a move that could potentially help reduce waste produced by wind turbine blades.
Last December, GE Renewable Energy and Veolia North America signed a “multi-year agreement” to recycle blades removed from onshore wind turbines in the United States. And in January 2020, wind power giant Vestas said it aimed to produce ‘zero waste’ turbines by 2040.