Wind turbine blade waste in 2050.
Wind energy has developed rapidly over the last two decades to become one of the most promising and economically viable sources of renewable energy. Although wind energy is claimed to provide clean renewable energy without any emissions during operation, but it is only one side of the coin. The blades, one of the most important components in the wind turbines, made with composite, are currently regarded as unrecyclable. With the first wave of early commercial wind turbine installations now approaching their end of life, the problem of blade disposal is just beginning to emerge as a significant factor for the future. This paper is aimed at discovering the magnitude of the wind turbine blade waste problem, looking not only at disposal but at all stages of a blade's lifecycle. The first stage of the research, the subject of this paper, is to accurately estimate present and future wind turbine blade waste inventory using the most recent and most accurate data available. The result will provide a solid reference point to help the industry and policy makers to understand the size of potential environmental problem and to help to manage it better. This study starts by estimating the annual blade material usage with wind energy installed capacity and average blade weight. The effect of other waste contributing factors in the full lifecycle of wind turbine blades is then included, using industrial data from the manufacturing, testing and in-service stages. The research indicates that there will be 43 million tonnes of blade waste worldwide by 2050 with China possessing 40% of the waste, Europe 25%, the United States 16% and the rest of the world 19%.