Wind turbine blade wastes and the environmental impacts in Canada.
Electricity production by wind turbines is considered a clean energy technology, but the life cycle of wind turbines could introduce environmental risks due to waste generation, especially at the decommissioning process. This study predicts the future wind turbine blade waste arising in Canada, throughout all life cycle stages, from manufacturing until end of life, based on the installed capacities of existing Canadian wind farms and projected future installations. Five alternative strategies for managing this waste stream are assessed in terms of life cycle greenhouse gas emissions and primary energy demand, including landfilling, incineration, and mechanical recycling. For the base case scenario, it is observed that the total cumulative waste until 2050 is 275,299 tonnes, with on-site waste accounting for around 75% of this total. Waste generation is concentrated in provinces with greater wind power deployment: Ontario and Quebec alone account for 70% of total blade waste. Life cycle environmental impacts of waste management strategies are dependent on background energy systems, with incineration a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly when displacing low-carbon grid mixes. Cement kiln coprocessing achieves net zero emission by converting waste into energy and raw materials for the cement. Mechanical recycling can achieve substantial reductions in primary energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions but achieving financial viability would likely require substantial regulatory support.