LM Wind Power, a GE Renewable Energy business, has announced plans to produce zero waste turbine blades by 2030. The company became the first carbon neutral business in the wind industry in 2018.
In practice, LM Wind Power’s vision of zero waste blades means the company aims to send no excess manufacturing materials and packaging to landfill and incineration without energy recovery by 2030.
Waste from manufacturing represents one of the biggest challenges faced by many industries as they seek to reduce their carbon footprint. At LM Wind Power, nearly one third of its operational carbon footprint comes from waste disposal.
In the wind industry, around 20-25% of the materials purchased by wind turbine blade manufacturers do not go into the final product, and research indicates that blade manufacturing waste volumes are expected to be larger than decommissioned blade volumes during the coming decade.
For wind turbine and blade manufacturers alike, the key to reducing the product carbon footprint lies in the supply chain. In the blade life cycle, around 75% of CO2 emissions occur in the supply chain.
While blade manufacturing waste prevention and recycling will be a major focus for the company, LM Wind Power is also working with partners to establish sustainable, large-scale solutions to recycle decommissioned blades through the DecomBlades project. The company is also working on the development of next generation blades that can be more easily recycled through the ZEBRA (Zero Waste Blade Research) project.