Currently, 85 – 95% of a Nordex wind turbine is already recyclable. For many of the materials used, there are established recycling processes for environmentally-friendly disposal – especially for steel and concrete, which make up the largest share of a wind turbine in the tower and foundation.
Turbine rotor blades consist of a combination of different materials such as wood, various metals, adhesives, paints, and composites. The composites are glass-fiber-reinforced plastics, as well as carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics. At the end of their life, rotor blades are more challenging to recycle due to the heterogeneity of the material and the strong adhesion between the fibers and polymers. Recycling processes for these materials are not yet fully established, and reuse of recycled materials is not widespread.
Over the past few years, the Nordex Group has already reduced the carbon footprint of its wind turbines. With our Sustainability Strategy 2025, we aim to continue on this path and have set ambitious goals on our agenda. One main goal is to provide fully recyclable blades by 2032, and in order to reach this goal, we conduct and participate in a number of Research and Development projects. One of these projects is the European-funded “Wind turbine blades End of Life through Open HUBs for circular materials in sustainable business models”, or EoLO-HUBS for short. The general objective of the EoLO-HUBS project is to demonstrate and validate a set of innovative composite material recycling technologies which will provide answers to the three main areas involved in end-of-life wind farm recycling:
- De-comissioning and pre-treatment of wind turbine blades
- Sustainable fiber reclamation processes addressing two alternative routes: low carbon pyrolysis and green chemistry solvolysis
- Upgrading processes for the recovered fibers addressing mainly glass fibers as well as carbon fibers
In its role as a manufacturer, the Nordex Group will bring expertise on blade design and material combinations to the project and will also provide test blades for this purpose.
The EoLo-HUBs project is coordinated by Aitiip, and involves 18 European partners from 7 countries:
Fundacion AITIIP, Echt regie in transitie B.V., Moses Productos SL, Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials GbmH, Consorcio Aerodromo Aeropuerto de Teruel, Advantis APS, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung EV, Jansen Recycling Group B.V., Mondragon Goi Eskola Politeknikoa Jose Maria Arizmendiarrietas COOP, Saint-Gobain Placo Iberia SA, Global Equity & Coprporate Consulting SL, Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek TNO, Centro Ricerche Fiat SCPA, Polymeris, NCC Operations Limited, University of Leeds and The Manufacturing Technology Centre Limited, Nordex Energy GmbH.