Vestas Targets Zero-Waste Wind Turbines by 2040

Vestas has launched a new circularity roadmap detailing a set of commitments to be implemented across the company’s value chain to accelerate the journey to reach zero-waste turbines by 2040.

Vestas V236-15.0 MW wind turbine. Source: Vestas

Through the roadmap, Vestas aims to set a new benchmark for the wind industry within circularity and waste reduction as the first wind industry leader to implement a broad circularity approach.

By maturing its circularity plan, Vestas aims to develop the first fully circular wind turbine, capable of keeping turbine materials in circulation across the value chain for longer than ever before.

”Eliminating waste from the turbine lifecycle is dependent on building a fully circular value chain,” said Lisa Ekstrand, Senior Director and Head of Sustainability at Vestas.

”To succeed in this journey, it’s crucial for industry leaders to build mature pathways towards circularity and ensure these are fully adopted across their value chains, as this will help nurture the technological innovation, material volume and stakeholder collaboration needed to grow an industry-wide circular economy. This approach is at the heart of Vestas’ circularity roadmap, and through it, we aim to pave the way towards a fully circular economy for the wind industry.”

The roadmap marks an evolution of the company’s previously announced ambition to produce zero-waste turbines by 2040, launched as part of Vestas’ global sustainability strategy entitled ‘Sustainability in everything we do’. It adds more detailed and more ambitious commitments, as well as organisational governance to execute on these commitments. The roadmap also outlines circularity pathways for Vestas’ entire value chain by setting new targets across three key areas: design, operations and material recovery.

In design, the roadmap increases the ambition level from last year’s announcement by adding commitments to increase material efficiency by 90 per cent, achieve 100 per cent rotor recyclability and reduce in supply chain waste by 50 per cent, all by 2030. Across operations, Vestas is committing to expanding efforts to refurbish and reuse turbine components, whilst regionalising its repair and refurbishment infrastructure where possible.

While the major components of a turbine are largely refurbished already, the roadmap commits Vestas to achieve a 55 per cent total refurbished component utilisation by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2040, in large part by creating new repair loops for minor components. This will lead to further waste reduction, while cutting carbon emissions and driving local job creation, the turbine maker said.

Within material recovery, Vestas is committing to reduce the amount of manufacturing waste ending up in landfill to less than one per cent, along with ensuring more than 94 per cent of manufacturing materials are recycled by 2030. 52 per cent of materials are being recycled today.

With sustainability metrics becoming increasingly integrated into the sales tender process, and regulation around waste management and circularity practises tightening in certain markets such as France and The Netherlands, waste reduction is becoming an increasingly prevalent factor in market dynamics across the European energy landscape, Vestas said.

Through its ongoing circularity journey, Vestas aims to accelerate industry-wide adoption of circularity practises by fostering a close collaboration with all stakeholders across our value chain, and by leveraging its industry-leading scale, and extensive supply chain network.