Wind turbines bound for landfill because of hefty recycling expenses

Researchers from the University of South Australia are urging renewable energy companies in the state to come up with an end-of-life plan for their ageing wind turbines.

A study led by Professor Peter Majewski indicated that tens of thousands of old turbines could end up in landfill by the end of the decade.

Worldwide, there could be more than 40 million tons of blade waste in landfills by 2050.

Wind turbines have a life span of 10 to 20 years and are expensive to break down due to their size and the fact that they are made from a mixture of composite materials including glass fibre, carbon fibre, polyester and epoxy resins.

Professor Majewski said the turbines could be recycled but it was yet to become a lucrative business.

“The key problem is there is not a lot of money in it, so recyclers don’t have a huge income stream,” he said.

“We need the government to provide incentives for energy companies.”

He said the government needed to encourage recycling or find ways to convince the industry to think about different designs of wind turbines.

The Snowtown Wind Farm is one of the largest in South Australia.

The local plan

Tilt Renewables, who have been operating the Snowtown Wind Farm since 2008, said they were monitoring decommissioning practices across the country and internationally.

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