What Will We Do With The Turbine Blades?

As the global climate emergency continues to loom over human civilization, feverish work is underway around the world to find technical and political solutions to the problem. Much has been gained in recent years, but as global emissions continue to increase, there remains much left to do to stave off the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Renewable energy has led the charge, allowing humanity to continue to enjoy the wonders of electricity with a reduced environmental impact. The future looks promising, with renewable sources becoming cheaper than traditional fossil fuel energy plants in many cases, both in the US and abroad. At the same time, the rise of renewable technologies has brought new and varied challenges to the fore, which must be dealt with in kind. Take wind energy, for instance.

Turbines Don’t Last For Ever

Wind turbine blades are huge, and usually made of composite materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber.

Wind turbines have become a major player in the energy market. Capable of turning the weather itself into energy , and with a far smaller environmental impact than fossil fuel plants, they’ve won a lot of fans. Unfortunately, like blocks of chocolate, tech companies, or a Las Vegas marriage, wind turbines don’t last forever. Much of a modern wind turbine is made out of steel, which is highly recyclable. Infrastructure already exists, and this doesn’t pose a major problem. Turbine blades are a different story, however.

Wind turbine blades are typically made of fiberglass or carbon fiber materials. Constructed as a composite of fiber material combined with resin, they’ve thus far proven to be a difficult item to recycle. Add on the sheer size and bulk of the average turbine blade, and the problem gets even more complicated. Blades can be up to 300 feet long, and are difficult to transport. Compounding the problem, as wind farms are installed in stages, large numbers of blades can reach their end-of-life at the same time, threatening to flood waste processing facilities that don’t have the storage or facilities to deal with them.

The size of most turbine blades means that the first step to recycling them is chopping them up. This takes huge equipment dedicated to the task.

Finding a solution takes time. Pilot programs have begun to spring up around the world to deal with this new waste stream, hoping to find a way to deal with the promised future influx of blade waste. Cement co-processing is one potential solution, in which processed fiberglass waste is used as a component of cement mixes. Some of the waste can also be burned as fuel for the process, replacing fossil fuels in this application.

These methods have the side benefit of also reducing the carbon dioxide output of the cement-making process. Carbon fiber blades are unfortunately harder to recycle, with groups exploring alternative ideas. Chemical methods may be used, such as solvolysis, or pyrolysis, using very high temperatures to break down the materials. These aim to destroy the binder material, leaving behind the fibers which can then be dealt with separately.

There’s Always More To Be Done

The fact that these challenges have come to the attention of engineers the world over should not be seen as a bad thing. Rather, the fact that these matters are under consideration shows that those pushing for renewable energy are not content to simply replace fossil fuels. Instead, environmental groups and those working in industry are keen to make sure that renewable solutions are at their cleanest and most efficient across their entire lifecycle. Doing anything less would simply not be worthwhile. As the technology develops further, it is to be expected that a litany of new opportunities will arise to further reduce emissions. All we need to do is take them!

[Main image: Jhimpir Wind Farm by Muzaffar Bukhari CC-BY-SA 2.0]

172 thoughts on “What Will We Do With The Turbine Blades?

      1. The artificial reefs kinda work on the material containing iron, which attracts certain micro-organisms including corals. The marine ecosystem has a problem of having little iron available because it precipitates and sediments away, which is why iron is like an algae fertilizer. Where you have iron dissolving into the water, you get marine life, so the artificial reefs are typically made out of old girders or junked cars etc.

        1. Why not add another thin coat of resin and srpray the blades with iron filling like from turning brake rotors etc let dry weight then drill a few hole in them then sink as reefs or take some of thos ships you are sinking fill them up with the old blades then sink it so it can become a habitat

        2. eeehhhh. They use alot of concrete blocks off the coast of texas. I’m not a marine biologist by any means. But having managed a saltwater tank with artificial reef….algae grows on everything. As a sports fisherman….I think reef material has some merit or should be beta tested….Hey Elon! figure this out for us.

          1. Nope, me too. First thing when I saw those chopped up bits — could be a cool base for a home. Certainly way cooler than old shipping containers, though maybe not as practical to ship and modify.

  1. This is an extension of a problem that’s been around for some time with composites (remember that fiberglass is a composite as well). Old sailboats, aircraft parts, Corvette bodies etc. don’t degrade appreciably with time, so grinding and incorporation/entombing in other materials such as concrete/asphalt etc. or just outright landfilling the compacted result is as far as we’ve gotten.

    The core problem behind all of this is that the resins used to bond these are essentially permanent and can’t be re-melted or easily reused, only pyrolized with a lot of resulting pollution. There has been some work done on depolymerization using heat/pressure/plasma etc., but the resulting products are low grade and un-economical so far.

    The Netherlands have taken a pretty good stab at it, but you can see the problems involved:


    1. So (being a devils advocate here) if the resins are permanent and the fibres last forever why are they being “end of lifed” Is that just another term for planned obsolescence? No run them till they fail and then rush in and repair them and keep going till there’s nothing left. Rwmember the sustainability moto wear it, repair it, until it is worn out completely (something like that) and then only then you try to reuse or recycle.

      1. No, it’s a material fatigue issue. The chunk of resin or the raw fibre itself is permanent but the bonds within the material eventually develop microcracks which link up to form larger cracks which lead to delaminations. Parts are given lives (hours or months, cycles, etc) based on analysis and testing, then they’re retired before they reach some fraction of this theoretical maximum. This is a problem with metals too. Retiring a part for its life is really common in the aerospace industry. Sometimes we don’t catch these problems.

        1. While microfractures in the Blades can lead to early repowering projects – in most cases the turbines that are being taken down, are done so prematurely. This whole industry is riding off of a Tax Credit that was recently extended to 2021 but its future is still undecided. I agree with Dingoddreams and his point on sustainability, I believe that the tax credit that is provided to these wind turbine operators should be passed to a government organization who’s job it is to maintain and extend the life cycle of the wind turbines as long as possible. There have been some advances in applications that can extend the life of blades/turbines. One such method is to coat the blades with a layer of coating – this extends the life-cycle and also makes the blades more efficient at cutting through wind and producing more power.

    1. Another fun fact that you might have not thought about, a wind turbine will not pay for its own construction and installation over its lifetime. The only reason they are being put in by energy companies is due to government subsidies. Whole thing is just a way to suck some cash out of the tax payer’s pockets and funnel it into the energy, trucking, composite, and motor companies. But hey, it makes the uninformed feel good, so YAY!

      1. That’s both true and false.

        Wind turbines CAN pay back, but they don’t necessarily do so. This is because the public is forced to pay more for the power than the value it generates on the market. You spend energy to make energy, directly and indirectly through the economic activity performed to make the money.

        The market value of power from a wind turbine is about 2 cents. That is, a kilowatt-hour of wind power is about as useful as 2 cents worth of average-priced electricity on the market, or about 0.18 kWh. The levelized cost of production is around 5-7 cents. The actual price paid by the public after subsidies is over 10 cents per kWh.

      2. One would think that economies of scale or interest by the companies making wind turbines would find ways to make them more effectively and thus less expensively. I don’t expect this to happen overnight but the cost of wind turbines now are likely lower than they were 10 years ago, even if they don’t pay for themselves.

        1. You can safely ignore comments like that, wind and solar are already in a spot where unsubsidized wind and solar are competitive with subsidized fossil fuels in some areas and the price is still in free-fall. In fact, it’s cheaper to build new wind and solar than to run existing coal plants.

          The main subsidy in solar and wind is the Production Tax Credit that pays 2.3 cents per KWH generated (only for the first 10 years of production) and is being phased out entirely next year. Anything built this year will have that amount reduced by 60%. And it’s a tax-credit. Nobody is making major bank on subsidies on renewable energy, regardless of whatever some people might claim.

          1. “in some areas”

            Yeah, and that’s the big red herring right there. Solar power is competetive – in Abu Dhabi. Wind power is competitive – in the North Sea. The point is the AREA, not the technology.

            There’s a curious lack of basic understanding of how these things work, like assuming that because SOME off-shore wind farms achieve high capacity factors greater than say 0.4, that it means all new wind farms will achieve that, and we can safely assume that all new wind power projects will have a LCOE below some arbitrary number because of it. With wind and solar, it’s all about location, location, location – and less to do with the actual technology. ¨

            ” is being phased out entirely next year.”

            You wish. It has been renewed for umpteen times already. Every time they’re “phasing it out”, the industry pulls the brakes on investments, the administration goes “OH no, we’re not filling our renewables targets!” and then they re-instate the subsidies.

          2. And, a great deal of the “cheapness” of wind power is that it has legal right of way on the grids. It’s not subject to normal supply and demand. In fact, if the grid cannot accept the power, they have to pay the producers NOT to produce (curtailment compensation) to cover for the lost profits.

            If they had to play by the same rules as everyone, the wind power producers would have to curtail their power without compensation, producing only when there is availability AND demand, which would mean a lot less energy produced and a lot higher cost per unit energy – since they can’t control how much is being made and when.

            So the price is STILL artificially low by regulation, not by the actual merits of the technology. The value of random wind power on the market is much less than the actual amount of kilowatt-hours produced.

          3. “The main subsidy in solar and wind…”

            Is not the Federal subsidies alone. State and county level subsidies and incentives apply as well. The PTC/ITC accounts for approximately half the subsidies paid to solar and wind the last time I looked.

            But wind power is relatively benign in this respect. It could actually work without the subsidies, in certain places. Solar power cannot, because it is heavily reliant on the ITC and the Net Metering law to exist at all.

            Consider. When the sun is up, all the solar producers around the same time zone – basically the entire east or west coast – is producing power at the same time. The more producers there are, the greater the over-supply and the lower the price or value of the power. If people didn’t have net metering and feed-in subsidies of other kind, THEY would have to pay for anyone to take the power. Nobody could make ANY money out of it, and people would simply not buy any solar panels.

          4. Do you ever read the things you post Luke? I wish the tax credit was expiring? It’s not a big deal if it does because it was 2.3 cents per KWH but it’s been reduced by 20% a year for the past 3 years. New facilities get 60% of that if they are built this year and it’s going away entirely next year. It’s not getting renewed. And it’s only for the first 10 years of production.

            At any rate, you’re wrong about the subsidies and you’re wrong about the value of the energy. You think it’s a bad thing for energy prices to go down? I’m sure there’s a fascinating supply and demand equilibrium where they still make good money even at lower prices. It might also inspire some people to get whole house backup batteries to take advantage of the cheap daytime energy.

            The price of the technology is low because they’ve built enough of them that you have the experience curve reducing the price of the technology and the benefits you get out of it.

            Subsidies for Renewables are not about making a profit on an unprofitable technology, it made the technologies cheaper overall. Solar and Wind are significantly cheaper now and can stand alone without the subsidies.

          5. Not to mention how horrendously subsidized fossil fuels have been through the ages, including everything from straight tax subsidy like they complain about, to government graft and corruption, to outrageously expensive wars fought on taxpayer dime to secure, manage, and drive scarcity of oil and ensure the dominance of the petrodollar. Basically a blatant transfer of trillions of dollars and millions of lives directly from public hands into the coffers of these psychos.

            Not to mention the worst and most regressive subsidy of all: the destruction of our future. Fossil fuel can’t last forever. Period. Even if somebody denies climate change, it’s obviously a finite resource. It’s delusional to keep advocating for it at this point.

            But yeah. They’ll still howl and whine all day about some little renewable subsidies. Boo hoo.

          6. “Subsidies for Renewables are not about making a profit on an unprofitable technology, it made the technologies cheaper overall. ”

            No it didn’t. They made the technologies LOOK cheap. Through the subsidies, you’re still paying a great price for it.

            What subsidies, net metering, all this favoritism does is enable these things to exist without competition – which slows down progress because you do not need to solve the problems that made them unprofitable in the first place. That’s the point: renewable energy is a non-solution until it can stand on its own in the marketplace. Otherwise the expansion of renewable power is entirely dependent on expanding the subsidies, and the government can’t keep paying for all that. They run out of money and voters to tax for it.

            This is not an argument against renewables. This is an argument against governments playing Sim-City with the economy because they’re making a mess of it.

            Also, stop appealing to fossil fuel subsidies as an excuse. Arguments like that are simply an admission that you agree subsidies are bad – but you’re special-pleading that they should still apply to renewable energy. Guess what: when money is dispensed by politics rather than by competition and merit, cheaters arise to take the money and push down those who are trying to do an honest business.

          7. “It’s not a big deal if it does”

            The PTC is part of a big deal. Every state has their own subsidy programs as well, all the way down to the county level because everyone’s competing to have those jobs and the money. The power? “Who cares, just dump it on the grid.” Like in Texas, where the utilities are giving away free wind power at nights just to collect the subsidies – otherwise they’d have to curtail and get nothing.

            Consider. Power purchase agreements for wind power run around 2-3 cents a kWh. That’s how much the market is willing to pay for wind power. That’s what it’s worth. The cost of producing wind power is around 5-7 cents, so without the PTC they would probably be making a loss. Add state level subsidies, and they’re making a profit. As Warren Buffet said – the only reason they’re doing it is to collect the tax breaks.

            As a result of the PTC being phased out, new investments in wind power have been slowing down recently. Same thing as what happened in Germany. Subsidies went away, wind power investors went away.

            You have to understand that the system power prices aren’t 10-20 cents a kWh. The prices the utility pays are less than half what the consumers pay, and in those prices 2.3 cents per kWh is big money.

      3. Who says they have to pay for themselves? Until we have another alternative to fossil fuels or we re-invest in nuclear power, we might have to suck it up and pay more. Same with recycling, if we’re being honest. There’s no particular reason that a recycling center needs to turn a profit. I’m perfectly fine subsidizing that to keep good materials out of a landfill. Nationalize it, if necessary. PG&E is a prime example of what happens when investors and profit come before actual power production and maintenance.

        In fact, I signed up for the renewable subsidy so I actually do pay more per kw/h to fund and maintain renewable sources so I’m not just talking theory here. There’s a really non-zero chance that my city taxes will go up next year to fund the recycling effort, and if it comes to a vote I’ll vote so hard that I burn a hole in the touchscreen.

        1. ” There’s no particular reason that a recycling center needs to turn a profit. ”

          If the value of the output is not greater than the value of the input (including process energy and other resources), then what’s the point of the operation?

          1. “If the value of the output is not greater than the value of the input ….. then what’s the point of [recycling] ?”

            Try thinking about it for several seconds. Maybe the answer will come.

          2. Remediation.
            Cleaning up an oil spill does not generate a profit. It is purely a financial loss to reduce further damage. In some cases, such as recycling electronics, the damage is too great to landfill it even if it costs more than the recovered materials are worth.

          3. In the cases where you are merely putting out fires and reducing damages, the question of whether recycling is profitable is moot – because you should be avoiding oil spills, or wind turbine blades that cannot be put to landfill because they’re full of non-degrading toxic materials.

            The problem is elsewhere.

          4. >”Big difference between “profit” and “value” there, dude.”

            Money represents value in the economy. If it takes you more money to recycle something, than the market is willing to pay for the outcome, on average it means you’re spending more value than you are gaining.

            “Profit” here could really be replaced with the term “added value”, where you’re taking something and adding value to it through a process that consumes value: energy, material resources, labor, time, land… etc. and if you are not able to add value to the recycled material then there’s no point in recycling it. The only reason you would be doing so is to avoid an even greater cost, but that’s an entirely different question.

            Besides, most recycling as it is done isn’t even recycling but simply downcycling – you’re not returning the material back to its original value anyhow. These processes usually happen because the costs are offloaded elsewhere – such as making people sort their trash and separate their plastics and metals (free labor) so the company doing the recycling would save money. A good rule of thumb is that if a recyclable material is worth recycling, they’ll pay money for it.

      4. The fossil fuel industry is being subsidised at $700K every minute (recent Katherine Hayhoe podcast about Canadian Conservative climate plan). In fact Wind Turbines can pay back their manufacturing cost in less than one year, that’s certainly the case in the UK

          1. So the “market leader” creates LOTS of harmful CO2 and gets a big subsidy and you’re trying to mislead people about the cost of low-carbon alternatives.

            Why’s that Luke?

          2. “Why’s that Luke?”

            Great strawman. The issue here is that fossil fuels are still cheaper, and when people choose to pay a lot of money or a little money, most people choose the latter. Hence why the subsidies to trick people into paying more per kWh so the renewable power could get a break and develop the technology cheaper.

            But the subsidies also create a situation where the renewable technologies don’t need to be cost-effective to compete, so the solution sustains the problem. It’s a band-aid solution.

            The trick is that those who don’t develop technology but simply take the money, make more money than those who spend some of it in developing the technology. The people who take the quick buck are able to expand faster than those who are actually trying to push the technology along, so they take the market instead.

            The same thing happened with solar power and China. Governments in the west spend a lot of money subsidizing solar power to prop up domestic suppliers, but producers in China started expanding the production of previous-generation PV panels at cut-throat prices and took 80% of the market. Result: PV production in the west died, and the technology stalled, and the only reason it is as cheap as it is now is because the producers in China are doing it on cheap coal power and never mind the environmental issues and waste dumping.

          3. And this same industry is dumping climate wrecng c02 and health wrecking particulates which create huge costs pain and suffering to the public and also every creature out there. Care to price that in?

            My guess is these factored in the fossil fuel generators have never had any hope of being “profitable” they just externalised all these inconvenient costs to everyone else. Hope you’re enjoying the catastrophic weather …..

      5. That’s interesting that this misinformation is so widely spread. I work in the industry and actually manage a windfarm. Truth is they usually pay for themselves within 5 years. Usually quicker if they are sighted in a good resource area. If you are bringing up US subsidies, well there are no longer any, also the subsidies they have previously received are nothing compared to coal and oil. Yes this blade disposal issue has been troublesome, the whole debacle really got brought to attention due to an older farm near me, but the local waste facility was eager to take them due to the revenue that it brings.

        1. “also the subsidies they have previously received are nothing compared to coal and oil.”

          The energy they have previously produced is also nothing compared to coal and oil.

          The point is, how much energy do you get per dollar spent in subsidies, and the fossil fuels win by a vast margin. Of course, subsidies are generally a bad thing because they distort the market. Neither should be subsidized.

          1. You’re making an argument by authority.

            The reality is, fossil fuel subsidies are fundamentally different from renewable energy subsidies because the latter is tied to the kWhs produced while the former isn’t. The amount of subsidies granted to fossil fuels per actual energy produced is miniscule compared to the amount paid to renewables.

            This information is from EIA reports:


        1. The EROEI argument holds if you are paying the levelized cost for the technology. It does not hold if you are paying massive subsidies, because paying those subsidies requires economic activity, which consumes resources – including energy.

          In other words, what it costs and what you pay for it are two different things. What you actually pay for it is what it really costs you, both in terms of money AND energy.

  2. One possibility: grind them up and use them as filler for asphalt. Or maybe as filler for drywall?

    I suspect the individual strands, once ground up, are too short to be mechanically useful. But something where strand length doesn’t matter could be good.

      1. In this case, it isn’t so much a case of “recycling” as a case of “making sure it doesn’t end up in a landfill” when it could be put somewhere else without causing issue.

        As the poster below mentioned, having small fibers breaking off as vehicles drive across it might not be the best idea.

    1. You don’t want to put them into asphalt, because the fibers get ground up and broken down, and spread around as road dust.

      It’s just a bad idea, in the same sense how asbestos is a bad idea.

          1. “Where have all the turbines gone? Long time passing…
            Where have all the turbines gone? Long long ago..
            The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind.
            The answer is blowing in the wind.”
            (apologies to Bob Dylan)

      1. That is false. Friable asbestos is a different animal, the fibers are effectively barbed so they imbed in lung tissue. Glass & carbon, not so. An actual read of this article illuminates erfforts at finding environmentally friendly means of breaking down resin binders while leaving fibers usefully intact, so far infeasible. Grinding it up makes powder already in use as concrete filler and I suspect it is useful as road-base filler – the thick layer of compacted material underneath our freeways.. etc.

        1. It’s not as bad as asbestos, but it’s still problematic because short pieces of glass fibers get liberated from a blacktop filled with chopped up fiberglass. It’s not a controlled process like a tumble mill where the fiber strands get reduced to powder.

          It is not something you want to breathe.

    2. I do NOT want very short powdered glas fibers (or carbon fibers) being released into the air regularly. While not as bad as asbestos, breathing in glas or carbon fiber is NOT good for your lungs! Some people might even be allergic to some of the stuff that might be left behind on the fibers (epoxy or polyester resins). On top of that glas fiber dust can be a total nuisance because it irritates like crazy (From experience, I’ve worked with the stuff for a few years, after a good sanding session on a boat hull a long and thorough shower was sometimes not enough to get rid of all the fibers.)

      Let’s not pave our roads in the stuff please.

  3. “Not worthwhile”, to the contrary, the blade of a wind turbine weighs between ~ 7 to 20 metric tons.

    When being burned the CO2 foot print is degraded only to a very small extend, also because the wind turbine had mostly saved the CO2 needed to being produced within the first 3 to 6 to 9 months (average is 6 months)

    Burning the blades inside an oven with exhaust gas cleaning of course is currently the best way to deal with this kind of waste. And as long as there are proper methods to deal with the waste in an environmentally acceptable way are in place and the whole CO2 footprint will remain it is ok for now.

    Around 7-10% of the whole energy a wind mill produced in it’s life time is taken away by production to dismantling.
    Meaning the overall outcome is still very good.

    1. Don’t forget the parasitic power of wind turbines.

      Blade heaters, hydraulic pumps, electronics, and turning the blades when it’s too calm (to prevent the bearings from seizing up) can take up to 200-400 kW on a modern large turbine. The wind turbine itself consumes a couple percent of its own average output, inconveniently at times when wind power would be most needed, like during winter calms when the temperatures drop hard.

        1. I have actually been inside a wind turbine.

          There are hydraulic pumps and motors that turn the nacelle, heaters to keep the oil fluid, heaters to keep the ice-buildup off the blades so they wouldn’t throw sheets of ice hundreds of meters around, and there is a motor that turns the turbine around very slowly in calm weather to prevent the bearings from seizing up.

      1. Carefully pyrolysing 20 tonnes of turbine blade after it has generated wind power for 20 years to extract the fibre components for re-use and capture/convert volatile organic compounds is nothing like the same end result of burning 20 tonnes of coal. You are comparing apples with oranges.

  4. Why so complicated?

    Upcyling is the solution.

    The greater generator housing can stand as a small house on the ground with interior structure, insulation and some windows.

    The blades can cut in blankeds or shingles for cladding the outside of normal houses.
    With some milling the blankeds can become groove and tongue connections.
    By smale pieces of cladding it is no problem the blade has original an twist.
    The reuse aus cladding is better as press ne shingles from plastic.

      1. That reminds me. I have been watching for warming experts and enthusiasts to sell their beach properties. So far, nothing. I have been expecting them to be pennies on the dollar, especially from those who say it all floods in 12 years. So far I’m disappointed.

        1. maybe you do better to see trees grow old. did you really expect the sea to rise overnight? of course people will only move and sell when the dykes they will build obstruct the splendid view.

          1. You do realize that $14 million is a drop in the bucket for him right? He could still be serious about climate change and make a bad investment because he still has plenty of time to enjoy the property and if it ever becomes a problem he can easily spend another $14 million to go someplace else and still have tons of money. The real issue is for people who don’t have that kind of money and he could still care about them, doesn’t mean he has to do more to help because he more or less did his part until the next guy came along to completely bulldoze those EPA regulations put in place by Obama and his administration.

      1. Their mechanical integrity is already compromised. They are certainly not airworthy. Not carrying passengers is not good enough, when they fall from the sky, something may get crashed, or worse, squished, beneath.

      1. Well, similar to what entered my mind Should be able to cut the blades, into hast of structural element. Most likely anthing that would be facing an outdoor environment, may need a new layer of cloth, and plastic

  5. Seems we need a new fiberglass composite that actually can be recycled.
    I instantly think of PLA, but it would likely have a long list of disadvantages. It is though biodegradable, can melt, and is mostly made of suger, so burns rather well.

    But structurally it might not bond well to glass fiber. Though, I haven’t tried.

    There is likely though long lists of other “common” compounds with similar advantages and that play better with fiber glass.

    I wouldn’t though consider the idea of fiber glass composites as “bad”, just hard to recycle.
    But I have to agree with some other comments here that just reusing the blades as is could be a large method to get rid of the vast majority of the waste. (roof shingles isn’t a bad idea. Or cutting them into semi large sheets of fiber glass.)

    Though, the important question isn’t about “can we cut it into shingles?” but rather, “will it be a good shingle?” ie, how does the material stand the test of time, is it structurally appropriate for the new task?

    1. we have thermoplastic composites instead of thermoset composites. last time i was involved, the thermoplastics composites were not as good mechanically but maybe something has changed in the past few years.

      1. That sure is a good question, have the thermoplastic composites got any better. Though, thermoset composites have likely also gotten better.

        But if the meltable solutions have gotten to the point that they perform adequately to spec, then it might be a worth while solution.

        Or one can always use a hybrid solution of both. Build with easily recyclable stuff as the casing for the structure. Maybe build the tower with a steel reinforcement, since that too is easily recyclable.
        Then keep the thermoset composites to areas where steel is too heavy and the thermoplastic isn’t adequately strong by itself.

        If one could get just the casing of the structure easily recyclable, then that is already a very large improvement.

  6. Alternatively we could just drop this effort completely and switch to more nuclear aka the most environmentally friendly option. An energy source that will last centuries, the only by product is water vapor and, produces more than twice the power of all renewables combined (US specific, other countries the number is even higher).

    Ohhh but what about the reactor built in 1970s reactor built in soviet russia and specifically tested to failure, or the japanese reactor put on both an island and a fault line. OK your right, have modern designs, perform proper maintenance, do not test it to failure, and do not place it where MULTIPLE natural disasters can hit it at the same time.

    Wind really just seems like politician feel good PR to me. It’s not reliable so I can’t properly leverage it on the grid, no one accepts a brown out so coal plants end up putting out just as much power in case the wind suddenly dies. At least with solar we know mostly when it will produce power and how much.

    1. Nuclear working depends on a critical mass of smart humans continually making smart decisions. We have not demonstrated that capacity over the long-haul–at least to the level needed. What you fail to mention is the scores of other facilities–used for R&D and manufacturing nuclear material–from mid-century to just recently, which are now so dirty they have been abandoned.

      1. Well no, we don’t need everyone making smart decisions, we need someone to. This is proof from the fact that in all of human history only 2 nuclear weapons have ever been used in stark contrast to the hundreds of thousands that have been made. I reference this man as an example of 1 person stopping a tragedy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov

        As for the R&D and manufacturing this I will admit some ignorance on. I’ve only looked into the plants themselves not the refinement of the fuel. That said I know that even classic (not salt based as someone below mentioned a tech definitely worth looking into since it seems to only have been dropped due to lack of by product making weapons grade stuff), refinement of nuclear material is primarily a by product of weapons grade stuff (U238 vs U235). Although that knowledge may be out of date to be fair.

    2. Are you trolling, or really flat-out stupid?
      “the only by product is water vapor”
      Or do you love the idea of spent-uranium used as shrapnel?
      Here’s an idea, turn used wind turbines, lined with cement and lead, into caskets for your allegedly non-existant *other* by-product.

    3. Wind turbines are truly elegant, beautiful 21st century technology, unlike absolutely every fossil fuel based technology from nodding donkeys to fracking drills to oil tankers to petrol/ gas stations; to coal mines; to any kind of power station; to the incessant urban noise of ICE vehicles.

  7. After breaking three surf boards the past two years, am embarking on a project to design a ‘super’ board. Give me some of this hi-tech plastic to use as reinforcement ribs.

    Can this stuff be cut into sections for use as construction material. Any flame rating for this stuff?

      1. “Wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity, while fossil-fuelled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh.”

        Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2009. “Contextualizing avian mortality: A preliminary appraisal of bird and bat fatalities from wind, fossil-fuel, and nuclear electricity,” Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2241-2248, June.

    1. Sure, we can cut the old blades into thousands of rakes, so homeless people can have employment raking up all that pesky dry brush and stuff! There, I have now killed two birds with one stone with my infinite wisdom, and very stable genius.

  8. At least the left IS actually thinking about it, and trying to do something about it. Better than the typical Wrong wing answer of “Doing the environmentally right thing cuts too far into profits. Just dump it somewhere, and let someone else worry about it. We’ve got CEO bonuses to pay and stockholders to please!”

  9. “As the global climate emergency continues…” Really, climate emergency? Imminent extinction of life on the planet? Haven’t “climate scientists” been predicting apocryphal end-of-the-world situations since the 70’s?

    1. Joseph Fourier first brought up the greenhouse effect in 1824.

      It seems that in the last decade, there are numerous political agenda$ for both sides, and somewhere along the debates, it was called an emergency to strengthen one side. Climate change is no more of an emergency than when I learned about it in high school; I was taught that it’s always been a concern, but the level of interest to make changes has always been below the need. It’s not an “emergency”, but it does require action sooner than later.

      1. Oops, meant to cite my first statement:
        Page 136, Vol 27, Annales De Chimie Et De Physique, 1824. (English: Annals of Chemistry and of Physics)
        Pages 584 and 585 of Fourier 1827: MEMOIRE sur les temperatures du globe terrestre et des espaces planetaires (English: MEMOIR on the temperature of the earth and planetary spaces)

        1. good lord, another cited response, going to have to check my DNS server hasnt been compromised and I am indeed still looking at the HAD comments section. ..

          btw awesome discussion. as composite materials are so hard to recycle surely the blades could be cut up to be used as some building material, shingles / fencing being suggested doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    2. I agree… Emergency? Naw. First it was global cooling, then global warming, now climate change (cover any event for the environmental religion folks to harp about) Climate does what climate does for thousands of years. Roll with it. Th man made climate change hoax is perpetrated more for money and control of the masses. More of a concern is the number of solar cells covering the ground and taking ‘energy’ out of the air which would affect the local climate/environment.

      Isn’t the blades inert? Burying shouldn’t be a problem.

      1. Perhaps a more unbiased introduction to the subject matter would have been to leave out the diatribe about how the climate is going to kill all of us and state the facts:
        “An interesting and unforseen phenomena is causing higher than anticipated damage to the blades of wind turbines leading to a plethora of potential opportunities to re-purpose the large blades into still useful items. Not only are the immense winds putting a large strain on the complex engineered composites, but debris in the wind is causing damage to the airfoil shape of the blades, causing them to be less efficient in strong winds than was initially thought. Another opportunity exists to possibly use cutting edge (no pun intended) materials in ways not thought of before to increase the longevity of these large, expensive and difficult to install blades.”

      2. No credible source ever said global cooling was an imminent threat. Sure, when we figured out Milankovitch Cycles some academics may have said “oh, neat. Another glaciation might happen one day.” But the key here is timescales – greenhouse warming can happen orders of magnitude faster than the usual glaciation cycles. Read some geology texts if you would like to get the background for the gloomy predictions we have seen of late.

        But yeah, there’s not really that much matter in a wind turbine blade. If you can’t cut the used blade into roofing or something, chuck it in a hole. You wouldn’t need a very big hole (when compared to a general purpose city landfill) and it’s a form of carbon sequestration :-)

    3. You will be long dead by the time the real effects are felt (and almost impossible to reverse) and do not stop for tens of thousands of years after they peak.


      The question is should all animals, plants and the entire human race be decimated. Given enough time the earth will eventually return to a more stable state. Maybe the reduction in the size of the human race is needed.

      1. Can higher levels of CO2 be good for growing bigger plants, in total isolation from all other effects, yes. But that would be ignoring all other effects, so overall taking into account all of the predicted global changes, No. Plants do not generally grow well in a desert or if being constantly being hit by Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.
        Scroll down to “U.S. Regional Effects” https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/

        When the Arctic eventually become Ice-free (which covers ~10% of the earths surface, so instead of reflecting solar energy away it will absorb a lot more), the global airflow changes from mostly laminar flow from the equator towards two massive heat sinks of ice at the poles that help maintain global stability into a more chaotic realm where super storms are easily formed and become common and mundane.

        1. Not Truth, plant doing well in much higher levels of CO2 is fact, not prediction or prophesy. It’s well known, and commercially used. The predictions for climate change are computer generated, based on modified weather models, which are about as reliable as a coin toss. You can read the confidence level in an IPCC assessment report, if you ignore the hype, You’ll notice the gratuitous use of words, like: could, may, might, can…

        2. @Harvey
          When your entire country is mostly desert, with very low rainfall, high levels of CO2 is not going to make plants magically do well. Or plants that are flooded under acidic salt water.

          The reasons why words like “could, may, might, can” are used in scientific papers is simply because predicting outcomes with so many variables and so far into the future is complex. It would be like predicting the weather on a Thursday a million years from now. But the one thing in common to all the modded outcomes from the currently known information is that things will get worse, much much worse.

    4. if humans are responsible for climate change then that means that humans are capable of engineering the climate. i see it as a step forward to figure out how that works and use it to our advantage. it could be a make or break fermi paradox solution we are facing, but i like to see it as an opportunity to get to type 1.

  10. I think to solution might be to make them out of aluminum as then the old blades can just be melted down and used to make beer cans engine blocks, rocket fuel tanks ,aircraft parts, and even new windmills.

      1. I used to do a lot of driving in Michigan. At least once a month I’d see into a convoy of three blades being transported north on I-94. No idea where they were coming from or going to, but if they are still at it you could maybe ask if they’ve got a spare to could give you.

        Those blades may have been destined for that rag-tag wind garden-patch (doesn’t qualify as ‘farm’) across the river to the east (in the “here be dragons” distant lands that are just gray on US maps).

  11. What if one were to focus the suns rays into a solar oven and melt these things?
    Mix the resulting waste into concrete that can be used to fix our bridges and roads?
    New blades would be made out of aluminum. I wish I knew more about it but I don’t.
    Ah well, old mind, old ideas. :)

  12. It’s been studied. Machines exist that can shred then to ten inch chunks, on site…no extreme transportation required. The waste can then be moved to a plant where it can be further processed into fibrous shards. The best uses are additives to cement or asphalt. The problem here is the cost of recycling versus the cost of new,clean fiber…from Asia…ahem. Reuse in other composites is tricky, as the epoxy resins won’t bond very well to other bulk fiber/resin products. Owner operators need to step up on this issue. Classic deal junkie behavior. BTW, there is very little carbon fiber in the first four generations of blades.

    1. Are you nuts? You don’t want those fibers in asphalt or concrete, it’s hell on the human respiratory system. Go try grinding down fiberglass all in a room with no respirator. Putting it in asphalt will eventually cause those fibers to eventually become road dust and finding it’s way into everything.

      Mixed in with cement and it becomes a respirator hazard to the workers and home owners using it

  13. There is no climate emergency, no sane and honest person says there is, and so there is no pressing need for wind turbines. Just wait for the fusion reactor tech to go online, because it will within 2 decades. Or build more fission reactors. Furthermore all forms of distributed power generation are a very foolish idea as they are particularly vulnerable to disruption from large scale solar flares, particularly during the slow process of magnetic pole reversal that the Earth appears to be entering at the moment. Not to mention EMP weapons which have a very similar mechanism. Take out the electronics in a wind turbine and there is no way to stop it, regulating its speed to avoid self destructing, so the repair process is not a few wires and components it is a whole new installation multiplied by the number of machines that were in the path of the particle stream that made it down to the Earth’s surface. Then you are trying to rebuild a high tech civilisation’s power generation tech but you don’t have any power to do it, because even the solar PV array would get taken out by a solar storm. Go and look up the Carrington Event, then do the maths on the total run length of conductors in larger scale distributed power generation systems. Nightmare stuff.

    1. No. Plenty of climate scientists have been calling for us to take global heating seriously for decades, literally, James Hansen from Nasa since 1988. Because we haven’t, we now have a climate emergency, because nearly our entire carbon budget is used up.

      Fusion power is always 20 years away, it was in the 1980s & I’m old enough to remember the science shows of the day that claimed it.

      Distributed power generation should be more resilient to most kinds of disruption, because they have fewer single-point failures.

    1. just build up a plywood wall with a door and window in it, connected to a plywood floor and an internal end cap to plug the other end of the blade. the dimensions for all that are in a cad file somewhere. just place the blade segment up on concrete blocks, bolt the insert to the flange, caulk the end plug and voila, cheap housing.

  14. Seems like one approach would be to find uses for sheets cut out of the material. Sharply curved regions might be hard to find applications for, but flatter parts seem like they could be used as-is or planed/shaped as needed to produce flatter/smoother parts.

    Perhaps carbon fiber blades could be used as raw material for automotive hoods and roofs.

    1. I noticed that, some 30 or so comments gone, since my last visit. Both of mine included… Guess we are being compelled to stick with the approved narrative, a face censorship. Censorship is a weapon of the weak and fearful. Scared of the truth?

  15. The most recent CfD auction has brought offshore wind down significantly. With the issues with national grid there is a case for changing the management process. In future contracts might be let for baseload. This would require multi technology consortia to be established, for example offshore wind with solar and then battery storage and pumped hydro.

    This would transfer some of this management cost to the consortia. The market needs to be a bit more mature but I would imagine this should be possible in the next 5 years and is the logical step to incentivise investment in storage.

  16. what a load of bull.
    “with renewable sources becoming cheaper than traditional fossil fuel”
    sure, thats why they dont need to be heavily subsidized and their use mandated by law, and fossil fuels heavily taxed and outlawed.

    1. Is it really renewable, if solar panel need to be replaced every 10 years? Yeah, I know it said 20 years on the box… A 300 foot blade, probably considerably less than 10 years, be even then. It’s not renewable, if you are left with a pile of near worthless material, you have to find a use for, or dump some place, but not reuse for power. I’m not sure how well wind or solar will hold up to the unbearable climate change conditions we are encouraged to fear. 2 C temperature increase, brutal. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, rising sea levels… Got to be rough on them.

    2. Unsubsidized renewable energy is becoming competitive with heavily subsidized fossil fuels. I don’t know where you’re getting “fossil fuels heavily taxed and outlawed” from because that is false.

      Also false are the hilariously wrong and tiny lifetimes listed in the other comment here. Both solar and wind last much longer than you think. Here’s a panel from 1980 tested in 2010 still putting out full power: https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/article/testing-a-thirty-year-old-photovoltaic-module

      If you are against renewable energy then you don’t understand it.

  17. The issues with (product) engineering is that people rarely think beyond developing something and selling it.

    The design of the wind turbine, with a huge blades is inherently inefficient. Regrettably it is reminiscence of the days of the windmills. The only reason for such a huge blades is to be able to be put as a restive element in the wind flow dynamics. There is an entrenched understanding that something has to be pushed upon is the only way for power to be extracted, and that is an incorrect view.

    A totally different design a pipe with elongated swirling channels within it and extracting gear in the piper periphery, is s very different concept for energy extraction and even propulsion in a fluid environment. Such devices does not need to be big, as by their nature they do not resist the fluid flow ( air ) and the fluid swirling withing actually, due to the fluid dynamics,, and decreasing of the eddies multiple folds, allow higher rational speeds even in low winds, and consequently, more power extraction. As a bonus the material will not degrade as fast, as gain, the amount of eddies is decreased several folds, due to allowing of the fluid to move in the natural spiraling lines as when there are no obstacles. With such design there will be 10x-20x lower material consumption and consequently such a fold lower problems people need to deal with.

  18. My first cutter USCGC Bibb was decommissioned and scuttled with her sister USCGC Duane off Key West in the hopes that they’d become artificial reefs.
    The plan seems to have worked well.

  19. If wind turbines and indeed solar panels are better, then there should not be an subsidy at all. Let the free market determine if the are economical given due regard to the energy required to manufacture and set up alternative power sources against the power generated over their lifetime. I doubt all this renewable stuff wouldn’t get a look in.

  20. why cant they bury them in dirt or concrete in nature areas — and before doing that , prepare the blade surface a bit to vines can crawl up them . Also some small holes in the them so birds and insects can reside .. mount wood duck boxes and other things on the lower parts of them .. –make the whole thing habitat friendly. Power companies should help pay for the transition. State could use prison workers to prepare them …just like they have them help out at the state parks …etc.

    also place the upright in the soil and bolt various things to it and safety lines so could be used to practice rock climbing skills.

    State/ federal parks /college campus could be good sites for things like this .

    prep them and then Also use them to make animal crossings over the interstates/big freeways…

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