The BFD has canvased the EV battery disposal problem here:
Dr Woods wants us to build 4.5 windfarms per year. Very fortunately, this is another CoL target that is being comprehensively missed as no one wants to see New Zealand end up looking like France does at the moment. Ugly turbines everywhere, with a maximum of about one in three actually rotating when we visited France last month.
Turbines do not last forever, the life cycle of a modern wind turbine is around 20 to 25 years, so what happens at the end of that lifespan?
You can’t burn the blades, and currently they are not recyclable, so the only option is landfill, something the Greens hate with a passion. But these blades are massive: 50 – 80m long, so not every landfill can handle them. Then there is the tower and the massive concrete foundations to dispose of eventually.
According to Pu Liu and Claire Barlow (Waste Management, April 2017), there will be 43 million metric tons 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%. The problem of blade disposal, they conclude, is just beginning to emerge as a significant factor for the future.
A 2017 report from researchers Katerin Ramirez-Tejeda, David A. Turcotte, and Sarah Pike (New Solutions) asserts that “the environmental consequences and health risks are so adverse that the authors warn that if the public learns of this rapidly burgeoning problem, they may be less inclined to favor wind power expansion.”
Ramirez-Tejeda, et al., added that landfilling turbine waste is especially problematic “because its high resistance to heat, sunlight, and moisture means that it will take hundreds of years to degrade in a landfill environment. The wood and other organic material present in the blades would also end up in landfills, potentially releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and other volatile organic compounds to the environment.”CFACT
Clearly any process to break down the blades, so that they take up less valuable landfill space, will require a significant energy input, further reducing the climate-saving ability of the turbines. Chain-gangs and sledgehammers seem to have fallen out of favour.
Are the costs and hassle (and waste of limited landfill space) of disposing of millions of tons of turbine blades factored into the cost-benefit for any wind project? Will this cost be added to your monthly power bill?
Ultimately, according to Sarah Lozanova (Earth911, August 2017), decommissioning wind farms might be more costly than the construction phase. Indeed, she added, decommissioning and recycling wind turbines is a blind spot when considering the total environmental impact of wind energy.