Date: June 3, 2022
Source: News Room
Humans have been harnessing the power of wind for thousands of years, long before coal and oil entered the scene. We first used it by constructing windmills which, like the name implies, were used to grind up grain. Now we use wind power for a much greater variety of purposes, and they've gotten bigger to meet that increased demand. To say that our windmills have grown through history is an understatement. The turbine that Don Quixote once tussled with was likely only 20-30 feet tall, which would only be a fraction of the height of a modern turbine. In fact, the blade alone of a modern turbine can be 291 feet long. Each one of those blades can be recycled, and that process is a massive undertaking.
Around 70% of a blade is made up of silica, the same raw material used to make cement. Which means that most of the material that makes up each blade can be repurposed, so recycling them is a worthwhile investment. Wind turbines also contain copper, steel, and electronics, all of which can be recycled on their own. To access these materials, each turbine is separated into much smaller, manageable pieces and then ground up. The shredded material is then sent to cement manufacturers, where it is used as both fuel and as a raw material.
As countries move towards renewable energy, which appears to be the trend through the 21st century, wind farms are going to get larger and the turbines themselves are going to continue to get bigger and more complex. Finding new and innovative ways to recycle the materials they're made up of will be of paramount importance to ensuring the sustainability and affordability of the industry.