New Life for Wind Turbines with Innovation and the Circular Economy

Wind turbines, the circular economy and recycling are at the heart of Enel Green Power’s new Challenge, open to start-ups, companies and individual innovators. How can we reuse the enormous blades of wind generators? Over to you!

The average operating life of a wind turbine is about twenty years. After that, its efficiency decreases and it must undergo a complete review. If its conditions are especially compromised, however, it’s time for retirement, even for a wind turbine, and it is completely replaced. The internal metal components are already recycled and reused, but what should be done with the enormous blades in glass or carbon fibre?

This is the challenge that Enel Green Power is launching through the Open Innovability platform. We want to collect and listen to innovative and sustainable proposals and ideas to give new life to wind turbines, within the paradigm of the circular economy.

The main driver pushing us to launch this challenge is the development of sustainable solutions to characterise our processes. The solutions will have to respond to technological needs as well as challenges due to the large volumes in play. With the now imminent end of operation for the first generation of wind turbines, in fact, their fate is becoming a global challenge.
We’re Listening to Your Sustainable Ideas

A large-scale wind turbine can be over 60 metres long and weigh over 20 tonnes. If we consider that every wind turbine is composed of three blades and there are wind farms with over 100 turbines, the numbers in play are impressive.

This is why the solution presented through Open Innovability must take into account the quantity of the material used, which in one single wind farm can easily arrive at 1000 tonnes, or even more. How can we best manage that?

And that’s not all. Is it possible to find a solution as close as possible to the plant, geographically? With the numbers in play, the transport of blades for significant distances may not be the most efficient solution.

At Enel Green Power, we don’t like simple challenges and we are actively working to include and extend the concepts of the circular economy in all our processes.

The ideas coming from the platform must be simple and flexible, replicable around the world, affordable and able to recover the highest percentage of material possible from individual blades, in line with the basic principles of the circular economy.

We’re facing a real challenge, which is why we’re asking for your help!

For the best ideas, there’s a $10,000 reward, which will be given to the winner based on the conditions specified in the regulations.

For more information on the Challenge, visit the Open Innovability and InnoCentive platform.