The world’s first wind turbine with recyclable rotor blades is spinning

The German-Spanish joint venture Siemens Gamesa recently made mostly negative headlines. Losses lined up on missed forecasts, so the boss had to be replaced twice. Meanwhile, majority shareholder Siemens Energy has lost patience and wants to take over the company completely. Then the costs have to come down. In fact, the entire industry is suffering from long-term supply contracts that have been negotiated under ruinous terms. It is important, however, that despite all the cost savings, innovations do not fall by the wayside. In fact, from a technological point of view, Siemens Gamesa is one of the world’s leading wind energy companies. The company continues to set records for turbine performance. In addition, work is being done on wind turbines that can produce green hydrogen directly on site. And last but not least, progress is also being made in the field of recycling.

A new resin makes recycling easier

The focus here is mainly on the huge rotors. These basically consist of different composite materials, which can easily be recycled separately. Until now, however, they have been glued together with special resins. However, this means that the individual parts can no longer be properly separated from each other afterwards. This makes recycling difficult, if not impossible. The company’s engineers have therefore developed a new resin for the new recyclable blades. This must guarantee the same stability during operation, but can then be removed relatively easily. In this way it is possible to disassemble the rotor blades into their individual components at the end of their service life, creating the best possible conditions for responsible recycling. The recovered raw materials can then be used, for example, in the automotive industry or in the manufacture of screen housings.

Wind turbines have a lifespan of at least twenty years

Meanwhile, the recyclable rotor blades are no longer purely a laboratory product. About 35 kilometers north of the island of Heligoland, the first associated wind turbine was put into operation. It is part of RWE’s Kaskasi wind farm, which will later have a total capacity of 342 MW. Siemens Gamesa’s innovation will not really play a role until the wind turbines are demolished or replaced at the earliest. The group has also set itself ambitious sustainability goals for the future: by 2030, all rotor blades produced must be fully recyclable. Ten years later, this should also apply to the installed turbines. The condition is, of course, that the return to sustainable profit has been achieved by that time. Because even the most innovative company cannot survive in the long run without sufficient income.

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