Ørsted has announced its new commitment to reuse, recycle or recover all the wind turbine blades in its global portfolio of onshore and offshore wind farms upon decommissioning.
The commitment, made on the company’s Capital Markets Day, is part of Ørsted’s strategy to expand its sustainability position and work toward achieving a carbon-neutral footprint by 2040.
“We want to help create a world that runs entirely on green energy, and we want to do it in a sustainable way. That includes moving towards more circular models where we reuse resources and save energy, thereby reducing carbon emissions. That is a big challenge, but we look forward to working on this challenge together with our supply chain,” said Mads Nipper, chief executive officer of Ørsted.
According to Ørsted, between 85% and 95% of a wind turbine can be recycled, but recycling of blades remains a challenge, as they are designed to be lightweight, yet durable, making them difficult to break apart. Consequently, most decommissioned blades are landfilled.
Ørsted has committed to not make use of landfilling for decommissioned wind turbine blades but will instead temporarily store the blades until they can be recycled.
In the coming decade, wind turbines will be deployed at an unprecedented pace. GWEC Market Intelligence forecasts that an additional 470 GW of onshore and offshore wind capacity will be installed globally between 2021 and 2025.
Thus far, Ørsted has only decommissioned the offshore wind farm Vindeby in Denmark, where the blades from the 11 wind turbines were all reused.
“Our ambition is to offer our customers carbon-neutral renewable energy solutions with responsible use of resources, seen from a life cycle perspective. This requires decarbonizing our supply chain, and it involves moving to more circular models of resource use in the wind turbine supply chain,” added Nipper. “I hope that our commitment will inspire others, which will help to bring scale to the market for recycling solutions of wind turbine blades, thereby accelerating the cost-out journey of the alternatives to landfilling, and help boost the already ongoing innovation in the wind energy supply chain on how to design to avoid waste.”
Ørsted is contributing to advance the technologies that can recycle wind turbine blades in a sustainable way as a founding partner of the DecomBlades, consortium consisting of wind industry companies and research institutions. The consortium seeks to investigate and develop solutions to recycle the composite material in wind turbine blades. The consortium recently received a three-year funding from Innovation Fund Denmark for its work.