Although wind turbine components can largely be recycled, the blades, which are mainly made of composite, are still a challenge. A consortium of parties in Eemshaven, in the north of the Netherlands, think they can do something about this. On 17 February, these companies will sign a covenant that marks the start of a complete value chain for the supply, dismantling and recycling of wind turbine blades.
Up to now, discarded wind turbine blades are often dumped in land fills. This poses a major dilemma, considering the large numbers of wind turbines that will be dismantled in the coming years. In Eemshaven, various companies, educational institutions and organisations are joining forces to make recycling possible. In doing so, Eemshaven is first in the world.
Decom North consortium
The concortium, Decom North, is unique in its comprehensiveness. The affiliated companies together form a complete value chain from dismantling to new product. They will dismantle the discarded wind turbines and transport the turbine blades to the recycling plant in or near Eemshaven. There, the blades are gradually reduced in size until only granules remain. These grains are the raw material for new products, such as bank revetments, moulds, bridges, crane mats and more.
Within a few years, the hundreds of offshore wind turbines north of Eemshaven will be part of the integrated recycling system. A pilot plant near the terminal will by then be operating at full capacity. The raw materials produced in this way will replace hardwood, for example, and will therefore benefit the environment and the climate.
Until then, the consortium is turning to Neocomp in Bremen, Germany. This company processes glass fibres and synthetic resin from cut wind turbine blades into cement. The system of a ‘one stop shop’ for the disposal of discarded blades is thus already being put into practice. The flows from land and sea will soon meet in the Eemshaven, where, incidentally, rotor blades can also be repaired.
Room for research
The parties involved agreed on the end goal: old wind turbine blades must be recycled in new ones. In order to achieve this as soon as possible, there is plenty of room in the pilot plant for researchers and students within the framework of the High-Quality Applications knowledge project (Kennisproject Hoogwaardige Toepassingen). They will also investigate whether more types of material can be processed using the same process.
During a programme on Thursday 17 February, the business case will be presented and handed over to the Groningen Provincial Executive member IJzebrand Rijzebol in Nijlicht in Eemshaven. HorYzon and Windesheim University drew up the business case, in which Chemport Europe, Groningen Seaports and the Offshore Wind Innovation Centre play an important role, as do the companies Buss Terminal, Mammoet, Lubbers Transport, DHSS Eemshaven, Bek & Verburg, Nehlsen Metal Recycling, CRC Industries, SCS Logistics/Shipco Transport and Nedcam Solutions. Source: Chemport Europe