Can Wind Turbines be recycled?

Wind turbines are highly advanced technologies. Nevertheless, the dismantling and recycling of their components is not a problem, as waste management companies have confirmed. In the meantime, companies have found safe solutions for recycling wind turbines and reusing them

Modern wind turbines can be almost completely recycled: 80 to 90 percent of the components of a wind turbine, based on their total mass, can be recycled. They consist of more than 80 percent steel and concrete. After processing, the concrete parts of the foundation are used as recycled concrete, for example in road construction. The steel segments mainly return to the steelworks as secondary material.

Some components, such as rotor blades, cannot find a secondary market and must be recycled. The recycling of rotor blades is particularly challenging due to the composition of glass fibre plastics, carbon fibres and other plastics. This means that the thermal utilisation of old rotor blades can only be carried out by specialised companies.

It has recently become possible for the rotor blades to be incinerated in an industrial recycling process. The ash, which still accounts for about 30 per cent of the raw material by volume, can then be used as a substitute for other raw materials in the cement industry. This technology
is also used for complex plastics from other industries, such as the automotive, aviation and shipping industries.

Several wind turbine manufacturers are actively pursuing zero-waste targets and publish annual sustainability reports in which they document their progress in improving their production process, as well as the lifespan and recyclability of their products.

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