GE Renewable Energy has signed a multi-year agreement with Veolia North America to recycle blades removed from its US based onshore turbines during upgrades and repowering efforts. Through this agreement, GE plans to recycle the majority of blades that are replaced during repowering efforts. Veolia will process the blades for use as a raw material for cement, utilizing a cement kiln co-processing technology. VNA has a successful history of supplying repurposed engineered materials to the cement industry. Similar recycling processes in Europe have been proven to be effective at a commercial scale.
As a part of the agreement, blades that have been removed from turbines will be shredded at VNA’s processing facility in Missouri and then used as a replacement for coal, sand and clay at cement manufacturing facilities across the US. On average, nearly 90% of the blade material, by weight, will be reused as a repurposed engineered material for cement production. More than 65% of the blade weight replaces raw materials that would otherwise be added to the kiln to create the cement, and about 28% of the blade weight provides energy for the chemical reaction that takes place in the kiln.
Wind turbine blades may be replaced through turbine improvement or ‘repowering’ efforts, when specific elements of the turbine are upgraded to improve the efficiency and lifespan of the turbine, without replacing the entire machine. Longer, lighter blades help the turbine to generate more energy every year, providing even more renewable energy to their end customers.