GE Renewable Energy signed a multi-year agreement with Veolia North America (VNA) to recycle blades removed from its U.S.-based onshore turbines during upgrades and repowering efforts. VNA will process the blades for use as a raw material for cement, utilizing a cement kiln co-processing technology.
As part of the agreement, blades will be shredded at VNA’s processing facility in Missouri and then used as a replacement for coal, sand and clay at cement manufacturing facilities across the country. On average, nearly 90% of the blade material, by weight, will be reused as a repurposed engineered material for cement production.
“By adding wind turbine blades – which are primarily made of fiberglass – to replace raw materials for cement manufacturing, we are reducing the amount of coal, sand and minerals that are needed to produce the cement, ultimately resulting in greener cement that can be used for a variety of products,” said Bob Cappadona, COO for VNA’s Environmental Solutions and Services division.
“Last summer we completed a trial using a GE blade, and we were very happy with the results. This fall we have processed more than 100 blades so far, and our customers have been very pleased with the product. Wind turbine blade repurposing is another example of Veolia’s commitment to a circular economy and ecological transformation in which sustainability and economic growth go hand in hand,” he said.
An environmental impact analysis conducted by Quantis U.S. found that the net effect of blade recycling through cement kiln co-processing is positive in all categories. Compared to traditional cement manufacturing, blade recycling enables a 27% net reduction in CO₂ emissions from cement production and a 13% net reduced water consumption. Further, the resulting cement has the same properties and performance as cement manufactured using traditional means, meeting all applicable ASTM standards.