Windmills Heading to Landfill
Feb 12, 2020 – Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
It’s all the rage among some governments to commit themselves (and their resident taxpayers) to carbon-free energy use. Within a decade, or two (sometimes three), all the power a region needs will come from clean, environmentally friendly sources like solar and wind power.
While developing energy alternatives is a long term good, there’s a bit of a problem with some of the clean energy marketing. According to this report from Blomberg News, the blades used to generate wind power wear out. And because they are meant to withstand extreme conditions, they are very hard to recycle. So what happens? The windmill blades are ending up buried in landfills:
Tens of thousands of aging blades are coming down from steel towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills. In the U.S. alone, about 8,000 will be removed in each of the next four years. Europe, which has been dealing with the problem longer, has about 3,800 coming down annually through at least 2022, according to Bloomberg NEF. It’s going to get worse: Most were built more than a decade ago when installations were less than a fifth of what they are now.
Built to withstand hurricane-force winds, the blades can’t easily be crushed, recycled, or repurposed. That’s created an urgent search for alternatives in places that lack wide-open prairies. In the U.S., they go to the handful of landfills that accept them, in Lake Mills, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Casper, where they will be interred in stacks that reach 30 feet under.
Of course, enterprising companies are looking at ways to convert old blades to new uses. But for now, the old blades bleaching in the sun serve as a reminder that even the greenest of technologies generates plenty of trash.
Image Credit: Jeff Turner from Santa Clarita, CA, United States [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]