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Veolia and GE Renewable Energy sign onshore wind turbines reuse deal


Veolia North America (VNA) has signed a deal with General Electric (GE) Renewable Energy for the latter to reuse Veolia’s onshore wind turbines. The arrangement would let GE recycle the removed blades after Veolia refines them for raw resources and cement purposes.

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Veolia and GE Renewable Energy to reuse wind turbines

Later last week, the French-company Veolia, through its North American subsidiary (VNA), signed a multi-year deal with General Electric (GE) Renewable Energy. The arrangement will enable GE to reuse blades extracted from Veolia’s American onshore wind turbines during redesign and repowering activities.  

GE would recycle the removed blades, already refined by VNA using a cement kiln co-processing technology. After that process, the blades can be used as cement for industry-purposes.

At the VNA’s production plant in Missouri, the company would scrap the stripped turbines, and blend its various components, including fiberglass and balsa wood. The residuals would be later used as a supplement for sand, coal, and clay at cement manufacturing plants across the US.

According to GE, approximately 90% of turbine blade content can be recycled as repurposed manufactured material. About 65% of the blade’s weight substitutes raw materials applied in cement manufacturing. Furthermore, over 28% of the blade weight supplies the chemical reaction needed in the kiln process.

Veolia has a long tradition of providing repurposed engineered products to the cement industry. In Europe, similar recycling technologies have proved to be successful on a commercial scale.

Circular economy: repurposed products

“Through incorporating wind turbine blades, which are mainly made of fiberglass, to substitute raw materials for cement production, we are reducing the amount of coal, sand as well as minerals needed to manufacture cement; eventually giving in greener cement which one can use for a range of products,” Bob Cappadona, COO for the VNA’s Environmental Solutions as well as Services division, stated.

“We performed a test that used a GE blade last summer, and we were delighted with the outcome. We have handled over 100 blades thus far this fall, and our clients were pleased with the commodity. Another example of Veolia’s contribution to a circular economy as well as the green transition in which development and economic development go hand in hand is the repurposing of wind turbine blades.

“Viable disposal of composite materials like wind turbine blades has become a concern not just for the wind turbine industry, but also for aerospace, marine, automotive as well as construction sectors,” said Anne McEntee, Chief executive of GE Renewable Energy’s Digital Services sector.

“The unique offering of VNA offers the ability to scale up and deploy rapidly in North America, with minimal disturbance to customers and some benefit to our environment. In this attempt to build a circular economy for composites, we hope to work with them.”

“Repowering efforts” mean different turbine modification components are modified to increase the performance and lifetime of the turbine, without removing the whole unit, thus replacing wind turbine blades.  

Longer, lighter blades enable the turbine to produce more electricity annually, supplying its end users with more green energy.

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