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Cement company works with GE’s unit for renewable energy on recycling of wind turbines

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Electric’s unit for renewable energy and LafargeHolcim, the world’s largest cement producer, have entered into an agreement to investigate the recycling of wind turbine blades.

A Memorandum of Understanding will see companies focus on exploring “circular finance solutions.”

; Business practices associated with the notion of a circular economy have gained traction in recent years, with many companies around the world wanting to operate in a way that minimizes waste.

In a statement Thursday, the companies added that they were exploring “new ways to recycle wind blades, including as a building material for building new wind farms.”

The plans announced this week are based on an existing relationship between the two companies. Last June, GE Renewable Energy said it would partner with LafargeHolcim and another company, COBOD International, to develop wind turbines using 3D-printed concrete bases.

The question of what to do with wind turbine blades when they are no longer needed is a headache for the industry. This is because the composite materials used in their production can be difficult to recycle, as many knives end up as landfills when their service life ends.

As governments around the world try to increase their capacity for renewable energy, the number of wind turbines on the planet only seems to be growing. This in turn will increase the pressure on the sector to find sustainable solutions for knife disposal.

Over the last few years, major players in wind energy have announced plans to try to tackle the problem. Just last week, Danmarks Orsted said that they would “reuse, reuse or recycle” all wind turbine blades in its worldwide portfolio of wind farms once they are taken into use.

In April, it was announced that a collaboration between academia and industry would focus on recycling fiberglass products, a move that could eventually help reduce the waste produced by wind turbine blades.

Last December, GE Renewable Energy and Veolia North America signed a “multi-year agreement” to recycle knives removed from onshore wind turbines in the United States. And in January 2020, wind energy giant Vestas said it aims to produce “zero-waste” turbines by 2040.

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