A few weeks ago, my friend Tyler sat down with me for a new segment we decided to call “What’s the Big Idea.” Our first topic of conversation centered on the recent chatter on the internet about what happens to wind turbines once they’ve reached the end of their useful life.
The prevailing thought online is that the wind turbines are disassembled and disposed of in landfills or in some sort of green energy graveyard. The thought behind this is that perhaps wind turbines aren’t all that green after all. Tyler and I wondered if that idea is based in fact – and if it is in fact true, does it need to be – or is there something else that could be done with them?
Kimberly walked me through the life cycle of a wind turbine and provided good information about not only what really happens – but some of the interesting uses that have been developed to reuse and repurpose wind turbines.
After our recording, she sent over a table of information from the Environmental Protection Agency about what we put into landfills. While there are many alternative uses for wind turbines once they’ve been decommissioned, some do end up disposed of in landfills. But it’s a very small amount. Annually wind turbine blades account for somewhere between 70 and 133 tons solid waste in the U.S. – about .05 to .09 percent. By comparison, Americans annually toss out 30,630 tons of food, accounting for 22 percent of all solid waste.
I hope, like me, you’ll appreciate learning more about the reality of wind turbine disposal – as well as a deep and thoughtful answer to our questions about Big Ideas.