Recent studies have confirmed the rapidly accelerating urgency of the climate crisis, with 2021’s IPCC report calling for urgent action in reducing carbon emissions. Composites manufacturing, particularly within the wind energy sector, must play its role in flattening the waste curve. As an essential component in wind turbines, TensorGrip TC Adhesives are ready to drive positive change.
Wind energy has seen a significant rise in uptake throughout the world; particularly within the United Kingdom, which has led in the manufacturing of smaller-sized wind turbines for over 40 years. Despite the industry’s prevalence, a number of challenges continue to be faced around the impact of composite materials at the end of their lifecycle.
Towards a Sustainable Wind Sector
The IPCC’s demands for climate action are projected to have an impact on the wind sector, with more countries expanding their wind energy resources in a bid to meet their climate commitments. However, deploying wind structure sustainably must place a new and greater focus on component refurbishment, recycling and circular economics.
Indeed, wind turbines approaching the end of their life have proven difficult to reclaim and extremely costly to recycle and process. Finding the right solution to process expired wind blades is becoming crucial, especially given that the first generation of wind farms are approaching the end of their 20-25 year lifecycle. But how can adhesives contribute to meeting these challenges?
Sustainability: The Role TensorGrip Can Play
Whilst the industry has much to learn in this area, the team behind TensorGrip TC Adhesives believe that our products can play a role in the future of blade recycling and the broader drive towards a circular economy in the wind sector. Here’s how:
- Material processing: Today it is estimated that over 2.5 million tonnes of composite material are in use in the wind energy sector globally, with glass fibre reinforced plastic demand nearly tripling over the course of the past decade. Industry leaders such as Vestas are pioneering a new approach which involves the disassembling of these composites into fibre and epoxy before breaking those components down further using a chem cycling process. The formula of TensorGrip Composite Adhesives will present no obstacle in such a process.
- Component recycling: Industry analysts estimate that recycling even 20% of the UK’s GF & GP could generate millions (or even billions), creating a new, sustainable supply chain and thousands of jobs along the way. Our adhesives can work within any component recycling process, assisting in the development of a cost-effective environmental solution for composite end-of-life.
- Integrity of finished product: TensorGrip TC Adhesives are renowned throughout the composites space for ultimate user ease in application with excellent tack and superior resin compatibility. The impact of this means that components within wind energy production can typically be in operation for longer, extending their operational lifespan. Whilst this doesn’t solve the problem of waste disposal, it can significantly delay the decommissioning of such components and reduce the steepness in the rate of the composite waste curve.
- Flattening energy consumption: Whilst recycling and repurposing represent major challenges within today’s wind sector, obstacles continue to be faced in reducing the carbon footprint left by turbine component production. Our adhesives can play a role in enhancing the overall sustainability of the sector given that no energy consumption is required during application. Furthermore, our solutions have the potential to reduce energy consumption that may have been used in the installation of mechanical fixings.
Heavy industry must join together in charting a cleaner, more sustainable future in wind energy. The embracing of renewable energy must be matched with a more recycling & reusing technology as part of a more advanced, forward-looking supply chain. Here at TensorGrip, we are ready.