Industrial-Scale Wind Turbine Blade Recycling

Iberdrola And FCC’s EnergyLoop Raises Bar For Wind Turbine Blade Reuse And Recycling

(Image Courtesy Of Iberdrola)

Iberdrola, through its PERSEO Program, and FCC Ámbito, a subsidiary of FCC Servicios Medio Ambiente, launched EnergyLOOP. EnergyLOOP is focused on recycling renewable installation components, a medium- and long-term challenge in the sector. Initiatives like EnergyLOOP contribute to the energy transition and boost the circular economy in Spain.

EnergyLOOP’s initial objective is the recovery of wind turbine blade components such as glass, carbon fibers and resins, and their reuse in sectors such as energy, aerospace, automotive, textiles, chemicals, and construction.

The new company plans to set up Spain’s first blade recycling plant in Navarre. The facility will be located in the south of the region, a strategic location due to its proximity to some of the country’s leading wind farms and with good connections to other regions with abundant wind farms.

The project has the support of the Government of Navarre. According to Iberdrola, the project positions the region at the forefront of the renewable energy sector by introducing technological innovation and circularity components while being aligned with regional smart specialization.

The plant will be the first industrial-scale plant of its kind in Europe. It will also contribute to the creation of a new value chain. EnergyLOOP expects to create around 100 direct and indirect jobs over the decade and plans to invest around US$10.7 million in the first facility.

The Spanish wind industry has more than 28 GW of installed capacity. As it grows, it will face the need to recycle or reuse significant quantities of wind turbines. Iberdrola estimates that by 2030, around 5700 wind turbines will be dismantled per year in Europe, coming from the repowering of wind farms or from facilities reaching the end of their useful life.

Iberdrola believes that EnergyLOOP will contribute to the transformation of the wind energy sector into a true circular economy through its investments in integrated blade recycling solutions. The project will work on the different stages that enable the circularity of wind turbine blades, including on-site pre-treatment and conditioning, waste transport logistics, recycling technologies, and the marketing of recycled products.

Collaboration Agreements

The initiative undertaken by Iberdrola and FCC Ámbito has the support of Siemens Gamesa, which will play a key role in this project, both because of its knowledge and experience in blade recycling and because of its penetration in Spain. Siemens Gamesa plays a role in 53% of all the wind farms installed in the country.

The birth of EnergyLOOP reinforces the circular economy strategies of FCC Ámbito and Iberdrola, which see this production and consumption model as a key lever for the energy transition. Both companies are seeking to develop equally cutting-edge recycling solutions for other components of renewable facilities, such as solar photovoltaic panels or batteries, as the needs of these markets so require.

With this approach, EnergyLoop will seek to establish the necessary alliances for the effective recovery of waste, extending the positive impact of the initiative to other actors along the entire value chain. It will also contribute to the research and development necessary for the effective circularity of these materials.