This week, our new CEO, Amy Oliver Cooke, shared a Bloomberg Green article titled “Wind Turbine Blades Can’t Be Recycled, So They’re Piling Up in Landfills.” The article gained a lot of traction; at the time of this writing, Cooke’s Facebook post of the article alone has nearly 3,000 shares.
The article reads:
A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. First, you need to saw through the lissome fiberglass using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer…
Tens of thousands of aging blades are coming down from steel towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills. In the U.S. alone, about 8,000 will be removed in each of the next four years…
Built to withstand hurricane-force winds, the blades can’t easily be crushed, recycled or repurposed.
The John Locke Foundation has been warning about the surge of waste that will come as the unintended consequence of these “clean” energy sources. Just two months ago, JLF published a research brief by Nick Wilkinson about the cost of wind turbines where he states:
[One] issue inherent to wind farms is waste. While most of the material in a wind turbine can be recycled, blades provide no such value. Wind turbine blades, which are several hundred feet long, are difficult to transport, and even more difficult to dispose of. In order to be transported to landfills, blades have to be cut into smaller pieces and then loaded on to trucks. This process is difficult and expensive enough. However, the blades still have to be crushed down. To make matters worse, many landfills lack the equipment necessary to crush the blades meaning they’re unable to dispose of them efficiently.
The problem, however, is not exclusive to wind turbines. Solar panels have a waste disposal problem as well. JLF’s Becki Spin commented on this issue for NC SPIN!