Vestas Working on Zero-Waste Wind Turbines

A Vestas wind turbine; (Photo: Vestas)
A Vestas wind turbine; (Photo: Vestas)

Danish manufacturer of wind turbines Vestas is working towards becoming even more sustainable, as it is now striving to develop zero-waste wind turbines.

"Vestas is expanding its sustainability focus beyond the positive contribution of its products to also address waste generated in the value chain. Vestas is excited to announce its intention to produce zero-waste wind turbines by 2040, further underlining our commitment to make sustainability part of everything we do," the company said in a statement a few days ago. 

The company has said that, with this commitment, it has become the first turbine manufacturer to commit to zero-waste wind turbines, meaning running a value chain that generates no waste materials.

"This will be achieved by developing and implementing a new waste-management strategy, introducing a circular economy approach in the different phases of the value chain: design, production, service, and end-of-life. The strategy will be presented within the next two years," Vestas said. 

"As the world’s largest supplier of wind energy, Vestas has a responsibility to eliminate waste across its value chain”, said Vestas interim Chief Operations Officer, Tommy Rahbek Nielsen. “Wind energy will continue to grow rapidly, therefore the time for a conservative approach is behind us. I am proud to be part of an organization that is making sustainability an integral component in all business operations”. 

According to Vestas, Waste generated from turbine blades alone is estimated to be around 43 million tonnes accumulated by 2050. With the global wind energy market set to grow by an average of 3 percent per year in the coming decade, Vestas is mitigating its environmental impact as the market leader by committing to eliminate waste across its value chain. 

Vestas has said that its wind turbines are today, on average, 85 percent recyclable, however, wind turbine blades are currently comprised of non-recyclable composite materials. "Vestas will consider all aspects of the turbine lifecycle, aimed at improving the recyclability rate of blades and nacelles. As a first step, Vestas will be focusing on improving the recyclability of all wind turbine blades. Incremental targets will be introduced to increase the recyclability rate of blades from 44 percent today, to 50 percent by 2025, and to 55 percent by 2030," Vestas said. 

"Several initiatives designed to address the handling of existing blades after decommissioning will be set in motion. These will cover new recycling technologies that are optimal for composite waste, such as glass fiber recycling and plastic parts recovery. Vestas will also be implementing a new process around blade decommissioning, providing support to customers on how to decrease the amount of waste material being sent to landfill," the company said.

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