Wyoming utility supports recycling wind turbine blades
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The largest utility in Wyoming is considering more sustainable solutions for old wind turbine blades, instead of tossing them into a landfill.
PacifiCorp has begun transporting retired wind turbine blades to Tennessee, where researchers are searching for ways to reuse the blades, which are often made with fiberglass and can’t be recycled or easily repurposed, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.
The U.S. Department of Energy recently granted funding to researchers at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, who are partnered with technology company Carbon Rivers LLC. PacifiCorp and another utility, MidAmerican Energy Company, will provide the decommissioned blades.
The group is working to build a recycling facility that can process the blades and use the reclaimed glass fiber to make multiple products, such as vehicle parts, sports equipment and agriculture products.
Nearly 90% of a wind turbine can be recycled since those parts are typically made of steel, copper or other electronic materials, but the 10% that is not recyclable is often left buried in stacks at landfills around the country, including the Casper Regional Landfill.
Data from the landfill says that wind blades are some of the most inert and nontoxic material at the site, and the facility has collected about $445,000 for disposing of more than 1,000 blades since Sept. 16.
Some wind energy critics have raised concerns over the environmental ramifications of having a buildup of blades, each of which can stretch up to 100 feet (30 meters) long.