The maturity of a sector such as the wind power industry makes it necessary to develop solutions to increase its sustainability and limit the use of raw materials through circular economy initiatives. And this need will grow in the coming years as the installed wind farm grows and reaches the end of its useful life.
Wind turbines are designed and certified for a useful life of 20 years. And by 2030, it is estimated that there will be more than 50,000 wind turbines in Europe that will have reached or exceeded 20 years of life – by country, Spain and Germany will have the most equipment at the end of their useful life, with more than 15,000 each.
These figures give an idea of the scale of the challenge facing the sector to dismantle, recover and recycle this equipment. According to WindEurope data, 85-90% of the weight of a wind turbine is currently recovered and/or recycled, but the goal is to recover 100%, and to this end various technologies are being developed to recycle the most complicated part: the blades and the rest of the composites.
But the challenge is not only technological but also industrial, since it will be necessary to develop a supply chain with the capacity and experience to dismantle wind farms, repair and recondition components, recover metals and recycle the rest of the materials.
At the regulatory level, important steps are already being taken at the European level with the European Green Deal, which includes the Circular Economy Package, and at the national level with the PERTE of circular economy.