Built to withstand hurricane-force winds, wind turbine blades can’t easily be crushed, recycled or repurposed.
As wind turbines age, thousands of blades are coming down from wind towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills. A study conducted by the University of Cambridge estimated that 43 million tonnes of wind turbine blade waste will be generated by 2050, most of which will be disposed of in landfills. China is expected to hold 40 per cent of the world’s waste; Europe 25 per cent; the United States 16 per cent; and the rest of the world 19 per cent.
Europe will decommission 25,000 tonnes of blades a year by 2025, and 52,000 tonnes a year by 2030. WindEurope, an association based in Brussels that promotes the use of wind power in Europe, has called on landfills to ban decommissioned wind turbine blades by 2025.
But all is not lost. Creative ways to reuse wind turbine blades are being found. Denmark Is Cleverly Repurposing Old Wind Turbine Blades as Bike Shelters. Since 90% of Danes owns a bike, bike lockup shelters are a much needed feature of the Danish city and townscape. Advocacy group Re-Wind Network looking at how the rigid blades can successfully be deployed in a wide variety of construction and infrastructure projects, from the aforementioned bike shelters which they constructed in Aalborg, to structural reinforcement, pedestrian footbridges, and traffic guard rails.