"...Ninety percent of a turbine's parts can be recycled or sold, according to Van Vleet, but the blades, made of a tough but pliable mix of resin and fiberglass — similar to what spaceship parts are made from — are a different story.
'The blades are kind of a dud because they have no value,' he said.
Decommissioned blades are also notoriously difficult and expensive to transport. They can be anywhere from 100 to 300 feet long and need to be cut up onsite before getting trucked away on specialized equipment — which costs money — to the landfill. ..."
Couldn't older ones be retro-fitted with newer rotating internal components to extend the life of the structural components and the blades? I just can't see such a massive structure being discarded just to be replaced with a unit which is probably very similar.
> designed the Wikado Playground to address the issue of saving out-of-service wind turbines from landfill.
Edit: The article does indeed appear to talk about composite materials.
> According to research, there will be, at current growth rates, 225,000 tonnes of rotor blade composite material produced annually worldwide
My heart hurts when I re-read this as "225,000 tonnes of rotor blade composite material landfilled anually worldwide N years from now", N being the average lifetime of a wind turbine.
There is no particular reason to expect all of decommissioned wind turbine waste to get shredded into landfill. The core of modern blades is mainly balsawood, metal parts should be recyclable, fiberglass is inert and probably recyclable. The small fraction of epoxy and coatings should certainly be processed responsibly.
It looks like current "high level waste" (fuel rods) production is about 30,000 tonnes a year.
Will any of the composite materials breakdown over time and leach in to water supplies?
In a way, under existing economic regime you can pretty much consider renewables as non-renewable energy sources. A wind turbine doesn't burn non-renewable fuel, but it does "burn" non-renewable construction materials. Of course, climate change is the more pressing problem now, but I'm not 100% sure how much more pressing, given the exponents involved in all of this.
Most of all, just thinking about how even renewable energy is entirely embedded in our process of transforming raw resources into waste (with a little bit of economic value extracted in the middle) just breaks my heart.
This is really just the second law of thermodynamics making its presence felt (not to imply that we're anywhere near close to some kind of entropic limit in the construction of wind turbines, but as a rule of thumb: in the process of doing useful work, things degrade).
I'm not sure how far they are through quality control etc, but when a bunch of different group gets to similar results independently, you can probably assume no huge errors.