Today, the turbines of the wind industry’s early days are reaching their end of life. It is currently possible to recycle 85-95% of a wind turbine blade. However, cost-effective recycling of composite materials remains a challenge for the wind industry – a problem that the DecomBlades innovation project aims to solve.

DecomBlades wish to establish functional and sustainable value chains to handle end of life wind turbine blades. Together with Vestas, SiemensGamesa, LM Wind Power, Ørsted, FLSmidth, Makeen Energy, SDU, DTU and Energy Cluster Denmark we have partnered up in this three-year DecomBlades project partially funded by Innovation Fund Denmark’s Grand Solutions program.

Increasing challenge

The recycling challenge is increasing as the volume of decommissioned wind turbine blades is rising every year. Today the magnitude is less than 100.000 ton and will rise to 350.000 ton by 2030 in Europe alone.

The wind energy industry is committed to find recycle possibilities for wind turbine blades, yet it is challenging to do so with respect for the environment and work environment, still being cost-efficient. On a global scale, an estimated 2.5 million tons of composite materials are currently in use in wind turbines.

Three processes

The DecomBlades project focuses on three processes: Mechanical crushing of wind turbine blades so that the material can be recycled in various products and processes, the use of crushed blade material for cement production, and pyrolysis where the composite materials are being separated under high temperatures.

As a recycling company, we help to dismantle and reuse a turbine that has reached the end of its life. HJHansen Recycling Group is responsible for 2 out of 8 work packages within the project – shredding and pre-processing.

We need to find good ways to recycle the complex materials of the wind industry

Read more about DecomBlades here.