New Life Wind

The decommissioning of wind turbines

Wind power plants have been developed massively in Europe in recent decades, becoming one of the continent's most promising and economically sustainable renewable energy sources. Considering that the first installations in Europe have mostly taken place since the early 2000s, and the average useful lifespan of a wind turbine is around 20-25 years, the coming years will see a surge in wind turbine decommissioning, with a consequent need to come up with solutions for managing their end-of-life.

While most wind turbine components are fairly easy to reuse or recycle (e.g. metal parts, electronics), there is one small non-metallic component (about 10-15% by weight of the WTG or Wind Turbine Generator) that is currently difficult to recycle: the wind turbine blades, consisting mainly of GRP (glass-reinforced plastic), which are currently disposed of in landfills.

Edison's commitment to wind power

Ensuring the circularity of these materials is a crucial issue for Edison: with this in mind, in collaboration with Italy's leading wind energy operators, the company has launched a project aimed at coming up with a solution for the entire End of Life (EoL) phase of the wind value chain.

In this way, wind energy suppliers and waste treatment operators would be connected with producers of reconditioned raw materials (also called Secondary Raw Materials) and their users (such as manufacturers of sanitary products, power distribution components, tools, industrial moulds, and thermal and acoustic insulation panels).

Italy's first pilot plant will be designed, built and operated according to this approach, with the goal of demonstrating the feasibility and real applicability of the new value chain proposed by Edison. In Edison, the initiative stems from a winning project in the 2020 edition of E-Deas, an in-house call for innovation focusing on employees' entrepreneurial and innovative ideas.    

Under this project, Edison is currently finalising contractual agreements to start working with Italy's main wind power operators, with the aim of finding an effective and sustainable solution for the decommissioning of all wind turbine components as soon as possible, further promoting wind energy.

Areas in which we innovate

Innovation itself is constantly changing, and in our work at Edison we always keep an eye on the latest developments in the industry, staying on the cutting edge of innovation to safeguard the future.