A Step

The blades of wind turbines are presently made from fiberglass and carbon precoated with epoxy resin. They are quite expensive to recycle and most end up in landfills. The development pointed to by this post by Michelle Lewis at Electrek sounds like a step in the right direction to me:

In just two years, Northern European companies have taken wooden wind turbines from prototype to commercialization. Now Finnish renewable product maker Stora Enso, one of the largest private forest owners in the world, is partnering up with German start-up Voodin Blade Technology to make sustainable wooden wind turbine blades.

The two companies are currently producing a 20-meter (66-foot) blade and are planning to make an 80-meter (262-foot) blade. The 20-meter blade will be installed on a 0.5-megawatt turbine near Warburg, Germany, by the end of 2022.

Read the whole thing. There are quite a few advantages to Stora Enso’s approach.

Interesting sidelight: nearly two-thirds of Stora Enso’s employees are either Finnish, Swedish, or Chinese. Note that no two of the languages spoken in those countries are related to each other. The lingua franca of Stora Enso is English despite the fact that very few of its employees are native speakers of English. Welcome to the future.

Most of their product is grown in Finland, Sweden, Russia, and the Baltic countries. Very little is from old growth forests.

5 comments… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    The hardware in wind systems probably has a useful life of 5 to 10 years, which is typical of machinery, after which it has to be repaired. EV makers warrant their batteries for 8 years, after which they must be replaced, at a cost that exceeds the value of the vehicle. The pylons and foundations are likely good for 50 years or more, although that would be a common amortization period.

    So, I expect a complete replacement of propellors and turbines every 10 years. At present, there is no subsidy for repairs, and broken blades and turbines are by and large abandoned.

    I don’t know what to expect from the wooden blades. They are likely some sort of high-tech composite/laminate. But they also will be replaced on like a 5 to 10 year cycle. It is possible that the wood-based blades can be burned or recycled for fiber, but that remains to be seen.

    It also remains to be seen whether the wood source is in fact old-growth forest (the most likely source) or tree farms (unlikely in northern climes).

    We have already seen that in some parts of Germany they have cut down old-growth forest to build turbines, and there is at least one instance where a turbine system was removed to get at the lignite on the site.

    There is no rhyme or reason to the economic/energy policies of the EU.

  • The key point, touched on in your comment above, is that wind turbines are a technology bad from an environmental perspective as presently conceived. As I say in the post, making the blades from wood is a step in the right direction. It’s just a step but a step nonetheless.

  • steve Link

    Once again another advancement. As I keep pointing out this is a fairly young industry. Still, even though it is young it has had a lot of success and continues to improve. For example, the batteries that people thought would need replacing at 8 years are lasting much longer. New batteries are better and cheaper and expected to last even longer.




  • walt moffett Link

    Wonder if anyone is working on bamboo fiber for the same purpose.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    This doesn’t quite pass the smell test for me.

    The reason is wind-powered structures constructed from wood have existed for millennia (the wooden windmill). I suspect there are very good reasons why wind turbines moved away from wood in the past few decades.

    Perhaps the article gives the reason. A 0.5 MW capacity wind turbine is very small when the average wind turbine capacity in 2020 was 3 MW.

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