Wind turbines are built to last. Their tall bodies are topped with long fiberglass blades, some more than half a football field in length, made to withstand the harshest, windiest conditions.
But this sturdiness brings a big problem: What to do with these blades when they reach the end of their lives.
While about 90% of turbines are easily recyclable, their blades are not. They are made from fiberglass bound together with epoxy resin, a material so strong it is incredibly difficult and expensive to break down. Most blades end their lives in landfill or are incinerated.
It’s a problem that’s vexed the wind energy industry and provided fodder for those who seek to discredit wind power.
But in February, Danish wind company Vestas said it had cracked the problem.
It announced a “breakthrough solution” that would allow wind turbine blades to be recycled without needing to change