Vattenfall Joins In on Wind Turbine Blade Landfill Ban

Vattenfall has decided to commit to a landfill ban on decommissioned wind turbine blades, effective immediately, and to increase blade recycling rate over the next decade. With this move, the Sweden-headquartered offshore wind major has joined several other developers and OEMs on the now industry-wide initiative.

The company has set specific targets on dealing with wind turbine blades at end of life:  

  • An immediate decision on landfill ban on decommissioned wind turbine blades from Vatenfall-owned wind farms and committing to re-use, recycle or recover 100 per cent of decommissioned blades.
  • A 50 per cent recycling rate of wind turbine blades by 2025.
  • A 100 per cent recycling rate of wind turbine blades by 2030.

“It is no longer acceptable for composite waste from the wind industry to be placed in landfills, even though specific country legislation allows for this. Achieving 50 percent recycling by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030 is a big challenge. Solutions to tackle this challenge do not exist in large scale today, so significant efforts are needed to reach this long-term goal. Therefore we will engage in and provide blades to research initiatives that will foster further technology innovation and testing of more advanced recycling technologies”, said Eva Philipp, Head of Environment and Sustainability at Vattenfall’s Wind business segment.

To achieve its targets, Vattenfall, among others, is supporting research on material recycling of composite waste and promoting the use of recycled composite material in new products. Furthermore, there will be a long-term approach focusing on all aspects of circular economy, such as supporting the recyclability of wind blades by design, and thereby increasing the value of the recycled material at end of life, the company said.

“To reach 100 percent recycling is a joint effort and all stakeholders need to collaborate. In this Vattenfall wants to significantly contribute. As the wind industry continues to grow to provide fossil-free energy across the globe, Vattenfall is committed to promoting a circular economy which reduces environmental impacts throughout the product lifecycle”, said Helene Biström, Head of Vattenfall’s Business Area Wind.

To be able to achieve a complete recycling of wind turbine blades depends on factors such as technical development, support of policies, and governmental incentives, Vattenfall stated, adding that it will continue to increase its engagements in cross-industry discussions on national as well as the EU level in order to push the business towards a sustainable end of life solution for wind turbine blades.

Vattenfall’s decision follows the same move from Ørsted and WindEurope’s call for a ban on blade landfilling from earlier this year.

Related Article

Wind turbine manufacturers have also set out to make their blades more sustainable, with Vestas leading a new project that aims to make blades fully recyclable and Siemens Gamesa committing to make its blades fully recyclable by 2030 and wind turbines following suit by 2040.

Shortly after announcing its targets, Siemens Gamesa launched its first recyclable blade, and Vestas has just informed about its new zero-waste turbines roadmap towards 2040.

Both OEMs, together with Ørsted and GE’s LM Wind Power, are also part of a cross-sector DecomBlades consortium, which is now on a three-year mission seeking to provide the basis for the commercialisation of sustainable techniques for recycling wind turbine blades.