GE Renewable Energy signs agreement with Veolia to recycle turbine blades
Through this agreement, GE plans to recycle the majority of blades that are replaced during repowering efforts.
Veolia will process the blades for use as a raw material for cement, utilizing a cement kiln co-processing technology. VNA has a successful history of supplying repurposed engineered materials to the cement industry. Similar recycling processes in Europe have been proven to be effective at a commercial scale.
As a part of the agreement, blades that have been removed from turbines will be shredded at VNA's processing facility in Missouri and then used as a replacement for coal, sand and clay at cement manufacturing facilities across the US. On average, nearly 90 percent of the blade material, by weight, will be reused as a repurposed engineered material for cement production. More than 65 percent of the blade weight replaces raw materials that would otherwise be added to the kiln to create the cement, and about 28 percent of the blade weight provides energy for the chemical reaction that takes place in the kiln.
Anne McEntee, CEO of GE Renewable Energy's Digital Services business, said, "Sustainable disposal of composites such as wind turbine blades has been a challenge, not only for the wind turbine industry, but also for aerospace, maritime, automotive and construction industries. VNA's unique offering provides the opportunity to scale up and deploy quickly in North America, with minimum disruption to customers and significant benefit to the environment. We look forward to working with them on this effort to create a circular economy for composite materials."
Wind turbine blades may be replaced through turbine improvement or ‘repowering' efforts, when specific elements of the turbine are upgraded to improve the efficiency and lifespan of the turbine, without replacing the entire machine. Longer, lighter blades help the turbine to generate more energy every year, providing even more renewable energy to their end customers.
Recycling decommissioned wind turbine blades into cement production will aid the cement industry in its efforts to decarbonize.