Report – How to facilitate the wind industry to become circular?

ECHT regie in transitie released a new report this week, titled ‘The Circular Wind Hub: How to facilitate the wind industry to become circular? The report has been made publicly available to support and stimulate the stakeholders in wind industry to work together towards even more sustainable and circular wind industry.

Increasing circularity and sustainability of wind farms even further is important as the resources are limited. Circular strategies should not only at End-of-Life (EoL) stage of wind farms, but already at design phase. The complete value chain should be further improved by implementing new policies, new technologies, and new collaborations, is said in an introduction in the report.

To assess viable approaches towards a circular wind industry and actually implement these approaches, a 3-phase strategy was designed.

Phase 1: Moonshot project

Stakeholders across the value chain and member states of European Union were first gathered in 2020 in Moonshot project to evaluate together the most important topics to be considered when increasing the circularity and sustainability. The focus was on finding solutions to retain critical materials of wind farms both in the form of components as well as materials. The outcome of the Moonshot project was 9 industry-recommended circular action agendas.

Phase 2: Circular Wind Hub

These 9 recommendations became the starting point of Phase 2: the Circular Wind Hub (CWH), in 2021. The Circular Wind Hub is a central point where companies, NGOs, knowledge institutes and governmental organizations can collaborate and work together towards a circular industry. The CWH included 3 different working groups, called hubs: Policy Hub (PH), Knowledge Hub (KH), and Industry Hub (IH). In a hub, a select group of industry experts address the topics of the linked working groups, focused on the local, national as well as on the European level. The goal of phase 2 was to work out action agendas; and initiate circular business cases and pilot projects.

Outcomes phase 2

The report that has been released this week is focused on the outcomes of this Phase 2. Close to 200 stakeholders were asked three main questions: which minimum requirements and new circular tender criteria for new wind farms does the industry suggest, which knowledge gaps do we still have, and which demonstrations do we need to start in order to meet the EU targets for wind and circularity? The answers are found in the new report. In a final chapter, recommendations are given related to deployment (Phase 3) of increasing the circularity and sustainability of wind industry. The project has been partly funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). Download the report.

Phase 3

For 2022 and onwards, several projects and initiatives have been started as Phase 3. Consortiums are being built for Horizon Europe calls related to composite recycling demonstration and digitalization. In Rotterdam, DecomCockpit has been established by ECHT, Jansen Recycling Group and CRC to recycle decommissioned wind turbines.

Additionally, the Circular Wind Guide was initiated by the University of Leeds and ECHT to increase the knowledge related to circular strategies in wind industry. To increase the resilience in supply chain, an initiative by Circular Industries for Rare Earth Element recycling plant has also been taken. The ecological aspects of the offshore wind farms are further assessed in De Rijke Noordzee project, which aims to find new opportunities to combine nature enhancements and wind energy generation. Source: ECHT

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