Wind turbine decommissioning: end-of-life solutions to components in a circular economy

Circular economy is at the forefront of global discussions due to the concerning pace by which natural resources are being used. The transformation from a linear economy, where products are discarded after use, to a circular one where products and materials continue in the system for as long as possible, will contribute to a more sustainable future.

The current wind market has not created a proven model for how to reuse, remanufacture or dispose. There must be a plan to deal with more than 50000 turbines due to become redundant in the next 30 years or be left with excessive turbine waste of over 70 million tonnes.

The University of Strathclyde and Renewable Parts have launched a Knowledge Transfer Partnership focused on wind turbine decommissioning. The project aims to develop reuse and remanufacturing solutions, delivering significant environmental and economic benefits.

The project has contributed solutions for the nacelle components such as the yaw gears and calipers. Other aspects are being addressed such as the various types of turbines and all their respective components. 

For the remaining components, the feasibility of potential remanufacture must first be assessed before conducting business cases and lifecycle analyses to evaluate financial and environmental impacts. Finally, the possibility of developing a remanufacturing process can be analysed. 

Yaw System Skip

Component waste ready for landfill.

An award winning image (ESPRC ENZ) of turbine sub-components being reused in symbolically a new turbine.