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Enva launces wind turbine recycling service

4C Offshore | Chloe Emanuel
By: Chloe Emanuel 09/05/2023 Enva

Enva, an environmental solutions provider, has introduced a new recycling service specifically designed for wind turbine blades. As the UK's wind power capacity continues to expand, Enva aims to address the environmental challenges posed by the decommissioning of older wind turbines. With the ban on landfill in Europe set to take effect in 2025, finding sustainable solutions for the recycling of wind turbine components becomes increasingly crucial.

National Grid's latest figures highlight wind energy as the UK's second largest source of electricity, accounting for 26.8% of the nation's supply in 2022, a significant milestone, with wind power surpassing a quarter of the country's electricity generation for the first time. With over 11,000 wind turbines installed and a total capacity of 28 GW, the UK now stands as the world's sixth largest producer of wind energy.

However, as the industry continues to grow, there is a pressing need to address the recycling challenges associated with wind turbine blades. Enva estimates that approximately 14,000 wind turbine blades will be decommissioned across Europe by 2023. While many components of wind turbines, such as foundations and towers, have established recycling practices, the composite materials used in the production of turbine blades make them more difficult to recycle.

Enva has successfully conducted a trial at its facility in Ayrshire, and is now launching a comprehensive solution for wind power producers. The decommissioned turbine blades will be crushed and shredded, allowing for the recovery of recyclable materials, including steel. The residual material will be utilized as a substitute for traditional fossil fuels in Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities. To facilitate processing and transportation, specialized equipment is used to cut the blades into three 50 metre lengths prior to delivery to Enva's recycling facility.

Michelle Scott, Operations Director at Enva, expressed the company's commitment to innovation and investment in sustainable waste management solutions. Scott stated: "Enva is dedicated to bringing new recycling processes to the market regularly, and the launch of our wind turbine blade recycling facility exemplifies this commitment. As alternative energy sources gain prominence, it is crucial to manage associated waste streams in a manner that unlocks their circular economy and commercial value. We are eager to collaborate with the Wind Sector and other energy companies to help them realize the environmental benefits of our recycling service."

The decommissioning of wind turbine blades is expected to increase significantly in the UK and Europe. By 2025, an estimated 25,000 tons of blades will be decommissioned annually, with this figure rising to 52,000 tons by 2030. Enva's wind turbine blade recycling service aims to provide a sustainable solution to manage this growing waste stream and contribute to the circular economy objectives of the wind energy sector.

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