Out of Sight: What to Do With Germany’s 1.35 Million Tonnes of Toxic Wind Turbine Blades?

The rush to an all wind and sun powered future has left Germans sensing the kind of regret that comes with youthful exuberance – something about acting in haste and repenting at leisure springs to mind.

Having carpeted Deutschland with more than 30,000 of these things over the last 20 years, many of them are at the end of their serviceable life and a ‘green’ conundrum has arisen: what to do with all the toxic junk left behind.

Principal amongst the German green’s concerns is what to do with more than 90,000 turbine blades; each of which weighs up to 15 tonnes; each of which cannot be recycled; each of which has been deemed hazardous waste.

No Tricks Zone reports on another green disaster in the making.

1.35 Million Tonnes of “Hazardous Material”, Germany Admits No Plan To Recycle Used Wind Turbine Blades
No Tricks Zone
Pierre Gosselin
21 November 2020

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 soil 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 all the solar panel waste that is about to added to that.
No Tricks Zone

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Ceiling fan blades are made of aluminium… why are these monstrosities not?

  2. EIKE (European Institute for Climate and Energy) says:

    I translated and loaded it
    Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn: Wohin mit nicht recycelbaren Windflügeln in Deutschland?
    Thank you
    Andreas Demmig

  3. Ship them out and sink them into a nice deep subduction trench. Mother Gaia will recycle them for us in gratitude for saving her.

  4. Make turbines out of wood?

    • Jeremy Cole says:

      Wood would likely result in a blade too heavy to lift when constructing the turbines not to mention cutting existing trees down to produce blades would be a bad idea considering the greenhouse issues we have right now.

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