What will be done to wind turbines when they reach the end of their life cycle? At the moment, there are over 28,000 onshore wind turbines in Germany, and one-third of them will need to be removed from service.
It won’t be possible to just recycle them. The rotor blades contain carbon fibers and glass, therefore burning them won’t be an option since they will give off toxic gases and dust. Additionally, removing wind turbines completely won’t be an easy task too. The concrete bases that hold turbines can sometimes go as far as 30 meters deep into the ground.
The country had that problem once, back in 2014. They had to deal with 54,000 tons of waste from rotor blades. And this will only continue in the future, as we install more and more of them.
Dr. Jan Tessmer, an energy expert, during an interview with Deutsche Welle, said that it will probably be a challenge for technology over the next years, but he expects from the industry to find a way to cope with this.
The disposal problem is hurting the image of “completely green” wind turbines. Tessmer believes that finding a green and environmentally friendly technology for recycling them will help keeping the current image. Additionally, it will benefit the society by allowing it to continue using wind as an energy source without hurting the environment.