Recycling wind turbines

September 21, 2007

The development of wind power promises much in terms of providing us with renewable energy for the future and wind turbines could be the most effective way to harness that power. Danish researchers now suggest that in order to assess the overall environmental impact of wind power, however, the finite lifespan of wind turbines and the need to replace and recycle them must be taken into account. Such an assessment will help policy makers and the industry to develop the green credentials of wind power more effectively.

Writing today in the Inderscience publication, International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, the researchers describe a prospective case study for managing environmental aspects of wind turbines. Their suggested plan for assessing the overall impact of installing and operating wind turbines should be adopted by the industry and policy makers, they say.

Wind turbines are one of the most environmentally sound technologies for producing electricity, explain the researchers. However, the removal and recycling phase of wind turbines has been identified as a blind spot in assessing their overall environmental impact. Most studies have ignored this phase and focused entirely on their operation and in some cases the production and installation of wind turbines.

Foresight and innovation analysts Per Dannemand Andersen and Mads Borup working with wind energy expert Thomas Krogh have devised a method for mapping and mitigating the negative environmental impacts of wind turbines which considers the future removal and recycling of offshore wind turbines up to the year 2050. By combining life-cycle assessment and taking into account future developments in this area of renewable energy, the team hopes that the wind power industry will be able to minimize any potential negative impact of their use.

"Because the wind-turbine industry is relatively young, there is only a limited amount of practical experience on the removal and recycling of wind turbines," Dannemand Andersen says, "It is likely to take more than 20 years before a substantial amount of practical experience regarding the dismantling, separation, recycling, disposal, etc., of wind-power systems is gained."

The present study has developed an interactive and process-oriented method for investigating the environmental impact of wind turbines removal and recycling. The team hopes that the industry will adopt their approach and so find ways to reduce any negative impacts of wind power.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

Explore further: Research simplifies recycling of rare-earth magnets

Related Stories

Research simplifies recycling of rare-earth magnets

June 18, 2015

Despite their ubiquity in consumer electronics, rare-earth metals are, as their name suggests, hard to come by. Mining and purifying them is an expensive, labor-intensive and ecologically devastating process.

The race for better batteries

June 15, 2015

"The worldwide transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way…" according to the Earth Policy Institute's new book, The Great Transition.

Simple separation process for neodymium and dysprosium

June 9, 2015

Rare-earth metals are critical components of electronic materials and permanent magnets. Recycling of consumer products is a promising source for these rare commodities. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, American scientists ...

Generating eco-friendly power with metal rotor blades

May 7, 2015

Wind turbines deliver environmentally friendly electricity. Yet the fiber-reinforced plastics often used in very large rotor blades are almost impossible to recycle. Not so with steel blades: since these are composed of steel, ...

Germany sells vision for 'green toys' to world

February 6, 2011

(AP) -- The hottest "green" toy in Germany isn't made of organic or recycled materials. That's so 2010. This one has a solar panel and only runs if kids remember to insert bright red "energy stones" that power the rest of ...

Recommended for you

Study calculates the speed of ice formation

August 3, 2015

Researchers at Princeton University have for the first time directly calculated the rate at which water crystallizes into ice in a realistic computer model of water molecules. The simulations, which were carried out on supercomputers, ...

'Snowball earth' might be slushy

August 3, 2015

Imagine a world without liquid water—just solid ice in all directions. It would certainly not be a place that most life forms would like to live.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.