1.35 Million Tonnes of “Hazardous Material”, Germany Admits No Plan To Recycle Used Wind Turbine Blades

Germany began installing wind turbines in earnest some 20 years ago. Now that their lifetime has been exceeded, many are being ripped down. But there’s a big problem about what to do with the leftover carbon and glass-fibre reinforced blades.

A recent report on ZDF German public television explains that currently there’s no plan in place on what to do with the turbine blades, which weigh up to 15 tonnes each.

There’s no way to recycle them to use as raw material for new blades. Currently the old blades are being shredded and the chips mixed in with concrete. “You need too much energy and power to shred them,” says Hans-Dieter Wilcken, the operator of a German recycling company.

Burning them is also not an option.

Hazardous waste

The problem with chopping them up is that dangerous carbon fibre particles are produced and pose a threat to human health. Used wind turbine blades have been designated hazardous waste and no one knows how to deal with them.

Currently 30,000 wind turbines are in operation across Germany and many will have to be dismantled over the next 20 years. That volume alone means over a million tonnes of hazardous waste (30,000 turbines x 3 blades/turbine x 15 tonnes/blade = 1.35 million tonnes).

By 2100, with wind turbine use expected to rise, millions of tonnes of non-recyclable hazardous waste will be left for future generations to deal with – that’s in Germany alone.

Bloomberg: Massive waste “forever”

In the USA, Casper Wyoming is currently serving as a landfill for used blades, Bloomberg here reports:

The wind turbine blade will be there, ultimately, forever,’ said Bob Cappadona, chief operating officer for the North American unit of Paris-based Veolia Environnement SA, which is searching for better ways to deal with the massive waste. ‘Most landfills are considered a dry tomb.’

‘The last thing we want to do is create even more environmental challenges.’

On top of the hazardous wind turbine blade waste, there’s also the problem of the massive steel reinforced turbine foundations, which are simply being swept under a layer of dirt as well. These too will forever have an impact on ground and ground water.

Legacy of waste, breathtaking stupidity

Future generations will wonder how dumb their ancestors must have been to opt for a form of energy that blighted the landscape, destroyed ecosystems over vast areas, killed avian wildlife, was an unreliable and expensive energy source, made nearby residents sick and left millions and millions of tonnes of waste behind.

Never mind ll the solar panel waste that is about to added to that.

13 responses to “1.35 Million Tonnes of “Hazardous Material”, Germany Admits No Plan To Recycle Used Wind Turbine Blades”

  1. patrick healy

    If you think things are crazy in Germany, consider Boris Johnson designated Britain the Saudi Arabia of “renewable” energy,. He laughably proposes producing all our energy by 2050 from windmills and solar mirrors. This will entail covering an area the size of Wales with windmills and an area probably twice that size with solar.
    Oh and he will ban all grown up cars and vans by 2030 and replace them with those German skalectric toys.
    But he is going to save the world from a deadly temperature increase of !.5 Degrees C. Here in Scotland we could not possibly life with that much heat.

    1. RoHa

      Might as well. What else could you do with Wales?

  2. John F Hultquist

    By 2100, with wind turbine use expected to rise

    I’ll go out on a limb and say that in 2100 wind turbine use will be an historical footnote much like check-row planting.

  3. RoHa

    Find a big volcano and toss the blades into the crater.

  4. Kevin a

    English version?

  5. Dave Ward

    “Millions of tonnes of non-recyclable hazardous waste will be left for future generations to deal with”

    And that will be in addition to the astronomical levels of debt those same incompetent governments have incurred, thanks to the crazy policies they have enforced in futile efforts to eradicate Covid19. I’m REALLY thankful I don’t have any children…

    1. Yonason

      Hey. They are doing it “for the children.” Don’t you care about future generations? //sarc//

  6. cementafriend

    Wind turbine blades can be disposed of see https://joannenova.com.au/2014/09/finally-a-way-to-get-energy-from-wind-turbines-burn-them-make-cement/. I recall seeing the article in Global Cement Magazine. The problems for this type of disposal a)cost in shredding b) cement companies want to be paid to put them into the kiln (handling, quality control of raw materials, possible environmental issues)- Eu 10-20/tonne and c) greenies do not like the idea of burning the carbon to CO2 which of course is nonsense as CO2 has no effect on the atmosphere.

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  8. Sommer

    This conversation needs to be forced into communities in Ontario where contracts for projects are nearing completion.
    Is anyone in Ontario investigating this subject thoroughly?
    It seems unlikely that the Liberal government who signed the contracts without a cost/benefit analysis did not have the foresight to plan for dismantling.Now that they’ve been decimated and have lost their party status, I can’t imagine they’ll find a solution.

    Would making cement garbage containers throughout Ontario’s major cities be a good use for the blades?


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