Within the small neighborhood of Louisiana, Missouri, it isn’t unusual to see what seem like large white fenders rolling down the street, hooked up to flatbed tractor-trailers. As soon as a bustling buying and selling port, the historic Mississippi River city 90 miles north of St. Louis has turn into a hub for an uncommon commodity: used wind turbine blades. Shipments from practically each nook of the USA arrive every day at Veolia North America’s recycling facility, the ultimate cease for end-of-life turbine blades.
Whereas standing within the manufacturing unit’s gravel car parking zone on Monday, Rose Collard pointed to 2 sections of a 150-foot turbine blade from Massena, Iowa, weighing 20,000 kilos mixed. “It is one of many greatest blades we get,” mentioned Collard, environmental well being and security specialist on the recycling facility. The US wind power trade has seen report progress lately, with dozens of recent initiatives arising throughout the nation. Missouri, Illinois and Iowa accounted for a considerable share of this progress in 2020, rating among the many states with the best new wind energy capability. However this thriving trade now faces a problem: what to do with previous wind turbine blades when it is time to change them.
Though most turbine blades are designed to final a minimum of 20 years, some are discarded a lot sooner, mentioned wind expertise engineer Derek Berry. “Some are catastrophically broken by issues like a lightning strike,” mentioned Berry, who relies on the Nationwide Renewable Power Laboratory in Colorado. “Or you may have a big wind farm that was constructed 10 or 15 years in the past and an organization needs to strip down the older, shorter blades and put in longer blades that produce extra energy.”