‘Green’ Energy’s Toxic Legacy: Millions of Wind Turbine Blades Destined for Landfills

Environmentalists have tumbled to the fact that wind power is anything but the ‘clean, green’ energy source its proponents claim it to be.

While the wind industry works overtime to bury a range of inconvenient facts, it’s actually burying millions of tons of toxic waste, among a list of other environmental sins.

Wind turbines don’t run on wind, they run on subsidies: cut the subsidies and once these things inevitably grind to a halt, they’ll never be replaced.

With an economic lifespan of something like 10-12 years (rather than the overblown 25 put forward by turbine makers and wind power outfits), over the next decade countries like Germany will be left with hundreds of thousands of 2-300 tonne ‘problems’ littering the landscape. With hundreds of turbines totally kaput, Germans have already been smacked with the harsh and toxic reality of their government’s so-called ‘green’ obsession.

And they aren’t alone.

Iowa’s wind industry has been going for barely a decade and already wind power outfits are sending thousands of tonnes of toxic waste to landfill.

While the owners of the waste facilities concerned are worried about the enormous amount of space being taken up, those surrounding these tips ought to be more concerned about the toxic cocktail of chemicals that will eventually find their way into underground streams and, ultimately, their water supply.

Sioux Falls landfill tightens rules after Iowa dumps dozens of wind turbine blades
Argus Leader
Joe Sneve
27 August 2019

Iowa wind-farms brought dozens of their old turbine blades to the Sioux Falls dump this summer.

But City Hall says it won’t take anymore unless owners take more steps to make the massive fiberglass pieces less space consuming.

The wind energy industry isn’t immune to cyclical replacement, with turbine blades needing to be replaced after a decade or two in use. That has wind energy producers looking for places to accept the blades on their turbines that need to be replaced.

For at least two wind-farms in northern Iowa, they’ve found the Sioux Falls Regional Sanitary Landfill to be a suitable facility to take its aged-out turbine blades.

This year, 101 turbine blades have been trucked to the city dump. But with each one spanning 120 feet long, that’s caused officials with the landfill and the Sioux Falls Public Works Department to study the long-term effect that type of refuse could have on the dump.

Public Works Director Mark Cotter couldn’t say why the Iowa wind-farms is choosing to truck its blades to Sioux Falls, whether it’s rates or regulatory climate. But he told the Argus Leader Tuesday the blades accepted to date have come in three pieces, but they still require a lot of labor to get them ready to be placed in the ground.

The out-of-region rate is $64 a ton, and a typical blade weighs between 14 and 19 tons.

That’s because a portion of each blade is hollow on the inside, requiring landfill crews to compact them by crushing them beneath the weight of 120,000-pound trucks.

Still, it’s a process that hasn’t proven cost effective, even though the out-of-region price for bringing waste to the landfill is nearly double what locals pay.

“We can’t take any more unless they process them before bringing them to us,” Cotter said. “We’re using too many resources unloading them, driving over them a couple times and working them into the ground.”

Wind energy companies considering Sioux Falls for their old blades will now be required to break them down into pieces no larger than three feet in length. Cotter said that can be done through a grinding or sheering process.

However, Cotter said a few blades accepted at the site to date have been set aside in order to be used in a pilot to determine feasibility for sheering blades on site, the impact on air space at the landfill and if pricing for accepting them should be changed.

“You have to do a certain amount of handling them to understand what your costs are so we can make those decisions,” he said.
Argus Leader

Joe Sneve reckons turbine blades last “a decade or two”.

Wind turbine blade failure is one of the more common features of these wondrously ‘reliable’ things: Wind Turbine Terror: Spanish Home Hit by Flying Blade – Just 1 of 3,800 Blade ‘Fails’ Every Year

And it’s not uncommon for turbine blades to fail within months of coming into operation.

At AGL’s Hallett 1 (Brown Hill) wind farm, south of Jamestown, South Australia the blades on each and every one of its 45 Suzlon S88s failed within their first year of operation, requiring their wholesale replacement.

The 2.1 MW, Indian built turbines commenced operation in April 2008. Not long into their operation, stress fractures began appearing in the 44m long blades. Suzlon (aka Senvion aka RePower) claimed that there was a “design fault” and was forced by AGL to replace the blades on all 45 turbines, under warranty.

The photos below show the stubs from those blades outside Suzlon’s Jamestown workshop. The main bodies of the blades were ground up and mixed with concrete used in the bases of other turbines erected later (the plastics in the blade are highly toxic, and contain Bisphenol A, which is so dangerous to health that the European Union and Canada have banned it):

stubs-1

stubs3

Turbine blade failures, including events where 10 tonne blades are thrown to the 4 winds (aka ‘component liberation’) are so common that we are able to finish this post with a graphic documentary, the captions are linked to the stories behind the pictures:

turbine-separation

Sigel Township, Michigan, February 2016.

turbine blade germany

Ostsee, Germany, December 2015.

BladeFailure_Spain

Pontecesco, Spain, January 2016.

blade fail

Fenner, New York, February 2016.

turbinedutchbladeaccident

Leystad, A6 Highway, Netherlands, May 2009.

turbine blade donegal

Donegal, Ireland, December 2013.

turbine001 kerry

Kerry, Ireland, January 2015.

bladethrow-shredding-ocotillo

Ocotillo, California, May 2013.

blade-whitelee_accident

Whitelee (near Glasgow), Scotland, March 2010.

And, we’ll finish with the video that strikes fear into the hearts of those unfortunate enough to live within 2 kms of these things:

Terrifying, dangerous and pointless!

And, it must be comforting to know that the liberated components depicted above (along with 3,800 odd blade fails every year) were quietly dumped in landfills – like the one detailed above – to deliver their toxic cocktail into aquifers and water supplies for centuries to come.

Welcome to your wind powered future!

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  2. You need to consider the climate impacts from the SF6 gas used in most of the high voltage circuit breakers on wind farms. It is a very powerful greenhouse gas and is now leaking into the atmosphere from the circuit breakers.

  3. Peter Pronczak says:

    The most common deicer is toxic ethylene glycol.
    It would give new meaning to migrating birds flying blind – hate to bump into a mob of daffy ducks.

  4. Jacqueline Rovensky says:

    The disposal of blades is just one problem of disposal of disused turbines and their parts. Much of the rest of these nightmares are made from toxic and non recyclable materials. What do they do with all that toxic and dangerous stuff left over – what about the concrete footings they leave behind?
    What Governments need to do is to demand these companies detail every minute bit of toxic and non recyclable material and provide proof they have arrangements before approval for all removal of such garbage throughout and at the end the life of the project they are requesting permission to erect.
    This disclosure should detail ALL known contaminants and the adverse effects they pose.
    ALL such materials need to be disposed of where it cannot cause damage to the environment or people ANYWHERE, now or in the future.
    Each company should have to have a well stocked financial fund in a secure Banking organisation which also pays interest which remains in the fund – with no company able to access and use the money for anything else, and if the project is on-sold then the fund becomes the property of the new owners who also cannot access and use it for anything other than the disposal of the garbage. This fund should not be allowed to become less than what it will cost to undertake the responsible removal and disposal of all materials involved. If need the company should be ready to put more money into the fund to maintain its requirement to fully fund removal and disposal throughout the life of the project.
    Each company should also have to provide proof of an Insurance policy which is capable of providing adequate payouts to anyone and any number of people should illness or loss of any type be found to be caused by the installation, operation and disposal of these turbines and this should include environmental damage also.
    These companies should be required to show proof they are financially viable to take on such responsibilities, with continual annual financial records made public.
    That with the removal of subsidies, which we see is causing a reduction in the number of turbines being installed already in some countries should ensure these companies think very clearly whether it is worth being involved in the industry.

  5. Ideal wall material.
    Someone tell Mr. Trump.

  6. Jeff Walther says:

    The best thing to do with them would be to truck them out into the desert and expose them to sunlight. Eventually, the UV will break down the fiberglass back into carbon compounds. Of course, this process should be required by federal law, and beset with expensive details. Like, the sites should be required to be surrounded by a dust/fiber containing fabric wall and constantly monitored for PM emissions and composition. The wind industry should have to create trust funds to pay for this disposal and to finance it for however many hundreds of years it takes the blades to break down completely.

  7. Steven Perry says:

    Could these be buried as in part of a sea breakwall? Kind of as a wood only in this case a fiberglass form. Would chemicals leach into the surrounding environment?

  8. Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE.

  9. A defective blade was chopped up at the Portland Keppel Prince compound recently. Not sure where it went. STT’s article above would appear to answer that question.

    ‘Hypocrisy’ would seem the most likely word to sum up 2019.

    The newly named British icebreaker SS Sir David Attenborough will convey scientists on a course to promote Climate Change.

    And what power source will propel her through these fragile waters?

    DIESEL!

    2 × Bergen B33:45L6A (2 × 3,600 kW)
    2 × Bergen B33:45L9A (2 × 5,400 kW)

    powering…

    Diesel-electric; two shafts
    2 × 2,750 kW per shaft
    Two 5-bladed controllable pitch propellers

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/RRS_Sir_David_Attenborough

    I think science took a wrong turn somewhere. It turned hard left!

    Whatever happened to the likes of the ‘Infinite Improbability Drive?’

    Improbability Drive – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – BBC Studios

    • Just to let people know. The link to the BBC website above is to a playlist featuring snippets of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The Improbability Drive segment is contained within the playlist.

      Note. This is a BBC Website link. I have no ultimate control over where the posted link will send you.

  10. Peter Pronczak says:

    Gee, I hope they’re being dumped in pits dug by, transported and crushed by, non CO2 emitting internal combustion engine vehicles. Otherwise pretentious naive kids like Greta Thunberg might get upset.
    Funny how, weather permitting, helicopters are used in northern Sweden to deice turbine blades. Talk about a basket case RE country even their 5G mobile network is in doubt.

    The real test of RE zealots like Xtinction Rebellion with ‘kids of all ages’ would be a slow bike ride against a head-wind in pouring rain. It ain’t gonna happen. Doubtful any of them as a kid would deliver 28 newspapers in winter’s dark under those circumstances, even for the money.

  11. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

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