State-of-the-art circular economy practices for end-of-life wind turbine blades for use in the construction industry

Ashal Tyurkay, Gunvor M. Kirkelund, Ana Teresa Macas Lima*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review

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The transition towards carbon neutrality by 2050 in the European Union and the subsequent increase of windpower is anticipated to lead to a significant increase in fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) waste generated by end-of-life (EoL) wind turbine blades (WTBs). Most of this waste is being landfilled due to legislative and material challenges, and a lack of sustainable materials management strategies. In this study, we reviewed the status quo of EoL WTB for their constituent materials, expected quantities per country, waste treatment technologies, supply chain, and circular options for EoL. We proposed a framework for incorporating circular economy (CE) principles in the EoL management for WTBs and assessed the readiness of the wind industry for sustainable decommissioning and circularity. Using the circularity ladder concept, we categorized waste prevention strategies, treatment technologies, and secondary uses of EoL WTB waste. We questioned the suitability of the construction industry for cross-sectoral CE and looked into emerging material innovations.

Circular economy and wind energy can be developed in synergy as part of sustainable transitions to find innovative uses for EoL WTB materials in construction and to improve EoL management of WTBs. The results, however, highlight a lack of knowledge and experience in decommissioning practices. Effective decommissioning handling requires an integrative approach where the technological development in WTB waste treatment and their economic aspects are based on the quantities and location of waste streams and material flows. Environmental and legislative factors largely influence these aspects. Due to this intricacy of the decommissioning phase, we should emphasize the role of supply chain responsibility and collaboration along the WTB manufacturing-collection-demolition continuum, reflecting the whole lifecycle of WTBs into the EoL.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Pages (from-to)17-36
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Wind turbine blades
  • Decommissioning
  • Recycling
  • End-of-life
  • Circular economy
  • Construction


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