GE-Led Group Produces World's Biggest Recyclable Wind Turbine Blade

Courtesy IRT Jules Verne

Published Mar 25, 2022 8:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

A GE-led consortium has manufactured the world’s biggest recyclable turbine blade, a major milestone in the production of sustainable offshore wind turbines.

The company, which is battling to be a leader in the supply of turbines, announced that the ZEBRA (Zero wastE Blade ReseArch) consortium has produced its first prototype of a 100 percent recyclable wind turbine blade.

The prototype is the world’s largest thermoplastic blade, and it was designed and built at the LM Wind Power Ponferrada plant in Spain after a year of material development and testing. LM Wind Power is a wholly-owned GE subsidiary.

The 62-meter blade was made using a special thermoplastic resin from Arkema, selected for its recyclable properties, along with new high performance glass fabrics.

Full-scale structural lifetime testing of the prototype is set to begin in the coming weeks, and testing of the recycling method is scheduled for December this year.

The ZEBRA project is a partnership led by French research center IRT Jules Verne and brings together industrial companies including Arkema, CANOE, Engie, LM Wind Power, Owens Corning and SUEZ. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the technical, economic and environmental potential of thermoplastic wind turbine blades on a full scale, with an eco-design approach to facilitate recycling.

The launch of the recyclable blade comes at a time when the world is witnessing unprecedented growth in offshore wind, with global installed capacity forecast to exceed 250 GW by 2030. The combined capital and operational expenditure is expected to reach $810 billion over the period, according to Rystad Energy.

Last year alone, the world recorded an additional 15.7 GW of installed offshore wind capacity, with China accounting for over two-thirds of the total