Germany is not sufficiently prepared for the recycling of discarded wind turbines, according to the federal environment agency (UBA).
"There is a risk of bottlenecks in the recycling capacities for the fiber-reinforced plastics of the rotor blades and risks for people and the environment in the event of improper dismantling," according to a statement from the office. This was the result of an extensive research project. From 2021 onwards, an increase in the number of visitors is to be expected.
The german wind energy association only partially shares this opinion. An increase in backpacking is imminent, the association’s managing director, wolfram axthelm, told the deutsche presse-agentur: "this is a challenge that we are meeting."The so-called repowering – the replacement of old, less efficient wind turbines with new ones – will, however, be restricted by the federal government’s plans for distance regulations, the association said. As a result, he said, the number of facilities dismantled is likely to be lower than the UBA had assumed.
Many wind turbines erected from 2000 onwards will expire in the next few years under the renewable energy sources act. Older equipment is also inefficient and underperforming by today’s standards. Wind turbines have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, according to the authorities.
According to UBA, there is only one plant in germany that recycles the plastic used in wind turbine blades. This could lead to bottlenecks in recycling capacities. The german wind energy association explained that it had been in dialogue with disposal companies for a year. "If more plants have to be dismantled, more companies will become active in this market," said axthelm. So far, it is not worth it for most companies.
UBA president maria krautzberger called on the federal government and the federal states to draw up binding guidelines for the dismantling of wind turbines. Axthelm also buried clear regulations. "The wind industry is a sustainable industry and wants to be so. That’s why we also want to help ensure that the reconstruction takes place in an orderly manner," he said. For manufacturers who are not only active in germany, however, a european solution would make sense.