Disposal plan required for tons of future wind turbine waste: Experts


“Wind and solar may not prove to be more sustainable than the older technologies they are aiming to replace.”

By 2050, more than 40 million tonnes of “blade waste” will need to be disposed of worldwide, and engineering and manufacturing experts have said that the “end of life” of many wind power plants currently emerging throughout the developed world. You will be urged to ask the government to implement the plan.

new study With the involvement of Professor Peter Majewski of the University of South Australia, Australia will find a way to dispose of “tens of thousands” of wind turbine blades by the end of the decade, especially as state and federal governments continue to drive. I found it necessary. A more ambitious net zero target.

Currently, wind turbines have a lifespan of about 20 to 25 years, and when they are disposed of, they are disposed of in one of three ways: recycling, incineration, and dumping in landfills. The latter practice will be banned in Europe by 2025.

Dumping wind turbine blades is common due to the difficulty of recycling materials.

Only 30% of the carbon fiber or fiberglass composites used in the manufacture of wind turbine blades can be reused, most of which are put into the cement industry as filler materials.

“Recycling them is very expensive and the recovered material is of little value, so it is not realistic to expect market-based recycling solutions to emerge. So policymakers are now We need to intervene immediately and plan what we will do. All these blades will be offline in the next few years, “Majewski said in a statement on June 20.

Wind turbines require product management

He is pushing for a “product stewardship” model, much like telecommunications companies offer smartphone recycling services, which can be factored into the cost of wind turbines to boost consumer costs. There is a possibility.

Epoch Times Photo
An array of solar panels and wind turbines. (Soonthorn / Adobe Stock)

“Manufacturers must be responsible for what they need to do with the blades at the end of their useful life, or wind farm operators are at the end of their life as part of the planning approval process for their business operations. We need to provide a solution for this, “he said.

“This costs some money for everyone involved, but we have to accept it as part of the cost of producing energy this way,” he added. “Without such a solution, you may find that energy options such as wind and solar are less sustainable than the older technologies they aim to replace.”

New government revitalizes the pursuit of net zero

Recent changes in Australia’s federal government have revitalized supporters of renewable energy to pursue more ambitious climate change policies.

The centre-left Labor government has promised to raise the country’s emission reduction targets from 26-28% to 43% by 2030.

At the same time, Labor will also attempt to overhaul the energy grid so that 82% of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources (wind, hydro, solar, biomass, etc.). Currently 64.67% (pdf) Electricity comes from coal-fired power generation.

The provincial government also greatly supports the Climate Change Initiative, which develops policies such as state-level net-zero targets, a declaration of “climate emergency”, establishment of a wider electric vehicle charging network, and restrictions on the development of oil and coal generators. I have done it.

Epoch Times Photo
Tesla Electric Vehicle Charging Station in Bathurst, Australia, April 7, 2021. (Daria Nipot / Adobe Stock)

Still, the pursuit of green technology and the large investment in solar panels and battery storage bears its own costs.

Only Australia will retire 100,000 tons By 2035, the number of solar panels will increase, most of which will be shipped to landfills. But like wind turbines, recycling solar panels is a costly and time-consuming task for businesses.

Regarding lithium-ion batteries, CSIRO estimates that Australia will generate about 3,300 tonnes of battery waste annually, which could reach 100,000 tonnes by 2036. Currently, only 2% of waste is recycled.

In addition, the addition of solar panels, wind turbines and batteries will increase our reliance on China’s supply chain, where many of our raw materials and finished products are procured.

In addition to this Sheffield Hallam University In the United Kingdom, we have discovered that the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in western China produces 45% of the world’s polysilicon. So 95% of solar modules need this material.

“All polysilicon manufacturers in the Uighur region have reported or-or are supplied by their own raw material companies for their participation in labor mobility programs.”

Daniel Y. Ten


Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national politics, including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and relations between Australia and China. Do you have a hint? Contact him at [email protected].