- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Not-so-green situation

This paper has reported much about the Broad Mountain Wind Farm project. Reports of recent public hearings reflect the concerns of residents of the area involved in this project. They have expressed concerns about effects on wildlife, degradation of the area’s natural beauty, and potential interference with TV signals. While the project manager for Broad Mountain Wind Farm said this project brings no significant impact to human health or the environment, that is not entirely accurate. Although most wind turbine parts, including the foundation, tower and components of the gearbox and generator are recyclable, the turbine blades, which make up only 2% to 3% of the mass of an entire structure, are another story.

Most turbine blades are made from composites. Older blades were made using glass fiber, while more recent models are made using carbon fiber. The composite is designed for peak aerodynamic performance and lightweight durability, but it is not designed for recycling. Since there is no proven recycling solution, research groups and wind energy associations around the world have predicted that wind turbine blades will generate nearly 50,000 tons of waste in 2020. This is forecast to rise to 200,000 to 225,000 tons of waste by 2034.

Finding ways to make the blades usable again, or convert them to some other usable material is a major challenge. Thus, increased use of this “green” energy alternative has caused a not-so-green situation. Although promoted as a solution to global climate change, wind turbines do not remain “green” to the end. One compelling question must be answered by those considering the wind farm for the Broad Mountain: Does adding to the global trash crisis really improve the environment?

JoAnn Paslawsky