As some of Australia's oldest wind farms begin to reach the end of their service life, the first-ever report examining the reuse, repurposing and recycling of wind turbines highlights the importance of collaboration between industry and governments in creating a circular economy of the future.
To coincide with the Australian Wind Industry Summit in Melbourne today, the Clean Energy Council has released its landmark report, Winding Up: Decommissioning, Recycling and Waste Management of Australian Wind Turbines.
With wind farms continuing to become a more prominent fixture in Australia's energy transformation, local communities hosting wind farms are interested in understanding their sustainability footprint over the long term. As of 2023, 31 wind farms totalling 599 turbines across Australia are over 15 years old.
"Australia's wind energy sector leads the pack among other industries in integrating sustainability into their supply chains, with multiple pathways available for wind turbines to be reused, repurposed or recycled later in their lifespan," said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton.
As highlighted in the report, between 85 and 94 per cent of a wind turbine (by mass) can avoid landfill disposal, with an array of applications for their components. These range from recycling or repurposing raw materials to partial or full recommissioning of turbines via service life extension or even reuse in future projects within Australia.
"While a majority of components can be sustainably recycled, the industry is seeking to go further and eliminate waste disposal during the end-of-life pathways, including composite materials such as carbon fibre and fibreglass commonly used in turbine blades," said Thornton.
"Australia's economic recovery and future prosperity will be driven by clean energy. With wind already accounting for more than a third of generation capacity, it will also shape the circular economy as it grows over the next few decades."
Key stats from the Wind Industry Recycling Report:
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Clean Energy Council Public Affairs Manager
+61 409 470 683