DATE: November 4, 2019
SNIP: The expected dismantling of thousands of old wind turbines in Germany could overburden the country’s recycling capacities and lead to financial difficulties for the turbines’ operators as reserves set aside might have been calculated too low, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has found in a study. “The federal government and the states quickly ought to come up with guidelines for turbine deconstruction,” UBA head Maria Krautzberger said. “We need clear rules for the scope and procedures to protect people and the environment and to recycle the valuable materials.” While the turbines’ steel and concrete can be disposed of without greater problems, the UBA found that the rotor blades will pose particular problems as the materials they are made of are difficult to separate properly. By 2024, about 70,000 tonnes of old blades could pile up annually in Germany alone. Moreover, the reserves set aside by operators could fall short of covering the financial needs by hundreds of millions of euros by 2038, which is why the UBA recommends reviewing the reserves’ calculation base and have them reviewed by independent experts on a regular basis.
There are currently nearly 30,000 onshore wind turbines operating in Germany. The first installations will reach the end of their 20-year guaranteed remuneration period by 2021, meaning that many turbines will likely be taken offline. Operators are looking for ways to keep their turbines operational by pursuing other funding models, such as power purchase agreements (PPA). However, as land becomes increasingly scarce for new renewable installations, replacing old models with newer ones through repowering is often seen as the more desirable solution when a turbine reaches the end of guaranteed support.
Via Cowboy State Daily:
The average lifespan of a wind turbine is 20 to 25 years. The only materials not recycled are the fiberglass blades and motor housings. Nationwide, there are nearly 50,000 wind turbines, with 2,700 being decommissioned since the energy boom of the 1970s.
Each turbine blade will need between 30 and 44.8 cubic yards of landfill space, using a total of 448,000 cubic yards of the 2.6 million yards set aside for construction and demolition material.
Researchers at Washington State University are looking for ways to reuse the fiberglass components of aged-out turbines, but no practical commercial applications have yet been found.