Recycling wind turbine parts could provide savings of up to 40%

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Engineers are currently in the process of finding a way to recycle parts of wind-turbines to avoid wastage and create a circular economy. With the life-cycle of wind turbines lasting approximately 20 years, what happens to old wind turbines is crucial to forming a circular economy. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde and Renewable Parts Ltd (RPL) are joining forces to reduce waste in the wind industry.

With a £9,500 award from the Energy Technology Partnership, RPL can determine which turbine parts require focus for future work. The University’s Electronic and Electrical Engineering department has also been busy analysing data to help determine what can be sold back to wind farm operators after refurbishment.

According to researchers, recycling wind turbines could create savings of up to 40 per cent. What’s more, it is certainly an eco-friendlier alternative to buying new. Using root cause analysis, engineers are able to identify why certain parts fail and how what happens to old wind turbine parts can help our planet. They are currently in the process of developing solutions that will reduce future fail rates and offer more refurbishments. Researchers say they hope this may also help them to better predict when parts might fail. As a result, customers will be able to better plan for the future.

Dr Fiona Sillars, knowledge and exchange manager from the AMRL said: “This project will drive change within the wind industry by providing new refurbishment solutions that will benefit the circular economy in Scotland.”

“The components that approach the end of their operational life or have failed will be refurbished, rather than being disposed of to landfill and replaced with brand new ones.”

James Barry, chief executive of RPL said: “Material that is often scrapped and enters landfill, can with investment, re-enter the supply chain as refurbished parts, reducing waste and cost. We have invested heavily in refurbishment technology to return increased levels of component parts to service.”

“However, it is crucial that this technology is applied to developing supply chains in the UK, with the many thousands of turbines located here. The industry is obviously based on a green energy source, but the by-produce of used parts to produce that power needs to be greener. There is a lot of scrap that comes off the turbines which ultimately finds its way to landfill in some form or another.”

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