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ERI hosts conference to discuss the fate of wind turbine blades

The IRC-funded WindValue project, a collaboration between the ERI and CUBS, seeks to estimate a financial valuation for onshore wind farms in Ireland. The task is to develop decision support tools which will assist wind farm managers to decide between decommissioning, repowering and life extension for the end-of-life of a wind farm, depending on the valuation for each. This research will also assist local communities who may be interested in buying part or all of their local wind farm and owning their own energy source.

Over 50 industry, community and academic delegates attended the hybrid WindValue conference on End-of-Life Issues for Onshore Wind Farms hosted by the ERI on Friday 27th May. WindValue PI Dr. Peter Deeney of the ERI opened the conference and PhD Student Dorcas Mikindani introduced the WindValue project.

An international panel of speakers from Georgia Tech, University of Leeds, UCC and MTU offered perspectives on wind turbine end-of-life, blade repurposing, structural design using wind turbine blades, and circular economy.

The importance of adopting a true circular economy approach to wind energy was emphasised in the panel discussion, which encompassed topics of reducing resource intensivity through dematerialisation, and component maintainability, remanufacturing, in addition to repurposing and recycling.

The conference highlighted the technical, economic, environmental and social advantages of repurposing as an end-of-life strategy for wind turbine blades, compared to conventional disposal options such as landfill or co-processing in cement kilns. The BladeBridge on the Midleton-Youghal Greenway is an example of a repurposing application with significant potential for further deployments on Ireland’s Greenway network.

Achieving true circularity will require long-term thinking from key players in the energy transition including government policymakers, wind farm owners and decommissioning contractor.

The event was sponsored by a conference grant from the National University of Ireland.

Keep an eye on the WindValue website to find recordings and slide presentations from this conference.

Also stay tuned to Mooney Goes Wild on RTE Radio One for upcoming interview with WindValue PI Dr Paul Leahy.