Offshore and onshore wind turbine blade waste material forecast at a regional level in Europe until 2050

Lichtenegger, Georg and Rentizelas, Athanasios A. and Trivyza, Nikoletta and Siegl, Stefan (2020) Offshore and onshore wind turbine blade waste material forecast at a regional level in Europe until 2050. Waste Management, 106. pp. 120-131. ISSN 1879-2456 (

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Wind power is a key renewable electricity source for Europe that is estimated to further develop significantly by 2050. However, the first generation of wind turbines is reaching their End of Life and the disposal of their blades is becoming a crucial waste management problem. Wind turbine blades consist primarily of reinforced composites and currently there is a lack of a sustainable solution to recycle them. The aim of this study is to estimate the wind turbine blade waste material for Europe until 2050 and is the first study adopting a high geographical granularity level in Europe, while distinguishing between offshore and onshore. In addition, the wind turbines' lifespan is not considered as a fixed value, but rather as a stochastic distribution based on historic decommissioning data. This study can support researchers, practitioners and policy makers to understand the future evolution of the blade waste material availability, identify local hotspots and opportunities and assess potential circular economy pathways. The results indicate that wind power capacity in Europe will reach 450 GW in 2050 with the respective total yearly blade waste material reaching 325,000 t. Findings for selected countries reveal that in 2050 Germany will have the majority of blade waste material from onshore wind and the United Kingdom from offshore. There is also a significant fluctuation in the yearly amount of waste expected at the country level, for several countries. Finally, local hotspots of blade waste material are identified.