Beginning in 2020, Veolia became the only company in the U.S. to launch a large-scale program for solving a little-known environmental challenge. Namely, how to sustainably manage massive wind turbine blades when they reach the end of their life cycle and need to be decommissioned.
Although wind turbine farms are widely known for their environmental benefits in providing an alternative to traditional energy sources such as coal and fossil fuels, until recently the only solution for disposing of the blades was to empty them in landfills. This was hardly consistent with the environmental goals and benefits behind wind power.
So in 2020, Veolia was approached by GE Renewable Power to see if the company could come up with a way to break down the components of the decommissioned blades -- some of which stretch up to 250 feet long -- and recycle or repurpose them for other uses. Veolia analyzed the various components of the blades and devised an innovative solution for isolating the components and breaking them down into confetti-like material that can used as fuel to support the manufacturing of cement. Not only does this process help bring the wind industry full circle in terms of sustainability, it also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cement manufacturing.
Since introducing this innovation, Veolia has processed more than 2,500 wind turbine blades, earning a reputation for innovation and a commitment to sustainability that has drawn national attention.
Check out this story from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which features a quote from a leading wind energy official recognizing Veolia's position "at the cutting edge in recycling wind blades."