Oslo, Norway, November 18, 2021 / PRNewswire / – A UK government grant has been secured for an innovative pilot project to develop the UK’s first bladed wind turbine recycling plant.
The three-year £ 2million project involves a consortium led by Aker Offshore Wind and Scottish researchers, with the aim of securing a more sustainable future for the global wind industry and the composites manufacturing industry within the meaning wide – accelerating the road to zero net emissions and waste and creating new skills and employment opportunities in the UK.
The pilot project will now begin to develop a commercially viable solution, overseen by industry leader Aker Offshore Wind, the Composites UK trade body and researchers from the University of Strathclyde Advanced Composites Group and Lightweight Manufacturing Center, part of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland Group.
Other university and industrial partners include Nottingham University, global waste management company SUEZ, distributor of GRP Solutions composites and manufacturer of Cubis composite parts.
The project is set up to commercialize a revolutionary method developed by the University of Strathclyde separate the fiberglass and resin components in composites and recover the fiberglass component which can then be reprocessed, molded and reused in other industries, such as automotive and construction.
Innovate UK, the UK government’s innovation agency, has provided £ 1.3million for the project, and Aker Offshore Wind has contributed over £ 500,000 to make the project a reality.
At present, when the blades of giant turbines reach the end of their life, there are only two options for managing the waste: send it to landfill or to waste-to-energy plants where it is burned at a high energy cost.
The environmental benefits of this project cannot be underestimated, as waste from wind turbine blades alone is expected to reach around 2 million tonnes globally by 2050, and composite waste volumes in the UK already exceed 100,000 tonnes per year.
Aker Offshore Wind has pledged its support to the trade body WindEurope’s call for a Europe-a broad ban on landfill of decommissioned wind turbine blades by 2025 and sees this project as a crucial step towards setting a new standard for the industry.
With thousands of turbines erected and built as part of the transition to fossil fuels, project partners have called on the UK government to help position the UK as the world leader in blade recycling and provide a sustainable solution to transform waste into new resources.
The pilot project will now put this into action, with the aim of making the recycling of composite parts the norm and making the wind industry a driver of a new circular economy.
British Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord noted:
“Offshore wind plays an important role in our plans to achieve net zero, particularly in Scotland. It’s great news that this funding will support the development of wind turbine blade recycling, helping to prevent blades from ending up in landfills and furthering our green ambitions.
“In accordance with the objectives agreed to COP26, the UK government is investing in research and innovation projects across the UK to help create a greener future. “
Sian lloyd rees, Managing Director of Aker Offshore Wind UK, said:
“This project will be an important part of our drive to accelerate the transition to zero waste and net emissions and demonstrates Aker Offshore Wind’s commitment to sustainability throughout the life cycle of a wind project; while investing in Scotland and the UK to build a more sustainable future for decades to come.
“TO COP26 We have heard the urgent call to action and this planned innovation will answer that call to ensure tangible solutions for circular business models. The Innovate UK grant will make blade recycling a reality, drawing on the expertise of researchers from University of Strathclyde and our decades of experience at Aker Offshore Wind to create a commercially viable green solution. “
Malcolm Forsyth, Head of Sustainability at Composites UK and Global Project Manager, said:
“This project is a vital step towards establishing a commercial recycling stream for composite materials in the UK and beyond, covering both wind turbine blades and several other applications in the construction industries. and transport.
‘Composite materials combining fiberglass and polymer resin systems have a huge role to play in bringing the UK economy to net zero and we need efficient end-of-life recycling to ensure that composite materials reach high levels of circularity in the future.
“Composites UK and all project partners are very pleased that this revolutionary technology scale-up project is now funded by the UK government and will make recycling of fiberglass composites a commercial reality in UK in the years to come. future. . “
Professor Sir Jim mcdonald, director at the University of Strathclyde, noted:
Head teacher at Strathclyde, sir Jim mcdonald said: “Wind power is a key part of the transition to net zero and it is essential that the technology and materials that provide renewable energy are as sustainable as possible.
“As we saw at COP26 in Glasgow, a global shift towards renewable and sustainable energy sources will help achieve some of the greatest breakthroughs in the fight against climate change. At Strathclyde, we have developed new processes for recycling and reusing wind turbine blades, which will help reduce waste in the renewable energy sector and in industry at large.
“This project and our partnership with Aker Offshore Wind are examples of the research and industrial commitment that has placed Strathclyde at the forefront of innovation in renewable energy and the sustainability of composites.
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SOURCE Aker Offshore Wind AS