The United States currently has enough wind turbines to power 12 million homes and is growing by leaps and bounds, and wind energy is clearly the future of alternative energy. But few know there is a seedy side to this renewable energy. Unbeknownst to many, petroleum-based resins constitute the physical components of wind turbines, and these non-biodegradeable components later end up in landfills.
This is a problem as energy from wind turbines becomes mainstream and more turbines are built and later discarded. The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Massachusetts at Lowell a $1.9 million grant to address this issue and determine if biodegradable wind turbine blades can be successfully engineered.
To be successful, sustainable resins will have to replace petroleum-based ones. Petroleum-based resins tend to be very sturdy and can handle harsh weather and are not very expensive. The trick is to create ecofriendly resins that meet these criteria, but according to engineers, this isn’t an easy feat.
A directive from the US Department of Energy has specified that at least 20% of US electricity must be wind power by 2030. To combat the issue of turbine blades ultimately ending up in landfills, and some experts estimate that 34,000 blades will be taken to landfills each year, finding a viable solution that employs biodegradable wind turbine blades is critical.
In order for wind energy to ultimately be worthwhile, we must solve the paradox of having an affordable and efficient renewable energy that then generates landfill waste and is ecologically damaging.
[via Yahoo! News]