A newly launched EU-funded project involving 14 partners from research and industry across Europe will explore and demonstrate, how to recycle, repurpose and reuse wind turbine blades waste in a more sustainable way, by establishing a demonstration plant in Spain, since commercial recycling methods are not available or economically viable in most markets.
From Germany, the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen is involved.
The project includes building a large-scale industrial demonstration plant in Spain, to further develop and scale technologies that will transform rotor blades waste into new circular building solutions, such as concrete, aggregates or dry mortars among others. The recyclates from blades will serve multiple purposes in the construction industry and simultaneously reduce the amount of virgin materials needed.
By 2030, the European on-shore and off-shore wind energy market is expected to increase by approximately 40%. With few commercially viable recycling options available today, blades are at the risk of being sent to landfills at the end of their (20-25 years) service life. Although the wind industry constitutes a small portion of the total composite waste projections in Europe for 2050, wind manufacturers and developers are adamant about solving this challenge. This is evidenced by their voluntary endorsement of WindEurope’s 2025 European landfill ban. Viable recycling solutions could avoid annual waste of 2 Mt in Europe and 21-70 Mt Worldwide.
The newly launched EU-funded project Blades2Build, will explore circular options for decommissioned blades as well as for blades manufacturing waste, where it is estimated that approximately 25% of materials used for blades manufacturing is discarded as waste.
“It is crucial that we find sustainable, easy-to-implement, and economically viable methods for recycling wind turbine blades and manufacturing waste in order to reduce waste of resources and emissions,”
says Senior Researcher Ana T. Lima from the Technical University of Denmark. She is the coordinator of the Blades2Build project that brings together a consortium of 14 world-leading industrial partners and cutting-edge European research institutions to develop innovative solutions for managing wind turbine blades waste.
Large-scale demonstration plant
The recycling, repurposing and reuse of wind turbine blades is challenging for several reasons. One is that the blades, typically made of glass or carbon fibers, are difficult and expensive to process, due to their complex physico-chemical structure. Another challenge is the dismantling and transportation of large decommissioned structures.
The Blades2Build project will evaluate and demonstrate at large scale, potentially sustainable, easy-to-apply, and economically viable ways to recycle, repurpose, reuse and recover wind turbine blades and related materials.
By establishing a large-scale demonstration plant in Spain, the project will lead to a significant reduction of composite waste being sent to landfill. Additionally, the project will explore circular strategies to preserve resources and extend the life of manufactured composite components in related industries. This will contribute to a positive transformation of the energy landscape with a higher penetration of renewable energy sources, leading to a substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector, thereby contributing to the goals of the EU Green Deal.
Knowledge hub for stakeholders
Blades2Build also aims to establish a knowledge hub connecting several stakeholders within the wind energy sector, including policymakers, NGOs, end-users, service providers, industrials, etc. to ensure collaboration and knowledge exchange around the optimization of composite recycling technologies, systems, and standards.