Endesa, PreZero España and Reciclalia Composite have reached an agreement to start up the first wind blade recycling plant on the Iberian Peninsula, with the support of GE Renewable Energy and its subsidiary LM Wind Power, thus taking an important step towards a model circular economy in the wind energy sector.
This project, which will be located in Cubillos del Sil (León), is part of Endesa’s Futur-e Plan for the Compostilla industrial complex, in which the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Junta de Castilla y León recently approved 7 projects to create value in the communities in which the decarbonization process is taking place.
The new infrastructure in which the consortium created will invest 8.5 million euros and which will start to be built next year, responds to the challenge of recycling more than 6,000 tons of fiberglass and carbon fiber from wind turbines per year, giving a second life to blade materials applying circular economy criteria. In addition, the project contemplates the reuse and incorporation of recycled fiberglass, carbon fiber and other by-products of the process back into the industry, both wind power and other sectors that may require these compounds. The new plant, which will be operational at the beginning of 2024, will have around 30 direct jobs, and will additionally generate indirect employment associated with logistics tasks.
In addition, the agreement provides for GE Renewable Energy to offer its customers based in Spain the option of recycling disused blades using the new plant. For its part, LM Wind Power will supply around 50% of the excess fiberglass generated during the manufacture of blades at its plants in Ponferrada (León) and Castellón. This fiberglass will be recycled so that it can be used, among other applications, in the construction and ceramics sectors, thus creating a circular economy around the Spanish wind energy sector.
Endesa also plans to provide blades that are no longer used in its renewable facilities for subsequent recycling, in this sense for the company “this agreement not only reinforces our commitment to the sustainable development of the wind sector, but also we take another step towards the circularity of the sector”, stated Rafael Gonzalez, General Director of Generation at Endesa.
For Gonzalo Cañete, CEO of PreZero in Spain and Portugal, “this plant will allow the renewal of wind farms to be promoted, thus generating, in a more sustainable way, a greater volume of green energy. With this, in addition, we are moving towards the circularity of the blades, facilitating their recycling and preventing them from being sent to landfill”.
We are delighted to be working with Endesa in the implementation of this promising recycling solution, which confirms our commitment to the sustainable development of the sector in Spain”, explains Blanca Monteagudo, Commercial and Sales Director of onshore wind power for southern Europe at GE Renewable Energy.
For Alfonso Bernabé, CEO of Reciclalia Composite: “Reciclalia and its team are proud to contribute their experience and knowledge in the composite materials sector to the project in this first recycling plant.”
Increase the economic viability of blade recycling
The new facility will recycle the blades and industrial waste from other production processes that generate waste of composite materials.
Despite the existence of numerous solutions to efficiently recycle around 95% of the components of wind turbines, the recycling of the composite materials present in the composition of the blades was a challenge for the industry.
By supplying the excess fiberglass originating from the manufacture of the blades in its two Spanish plants, in addition to the blades at the end of their useful life, GE Renewable Energy and LM Wind Power contribute to the viability of the plant and, in general, to the development of a blade recycling industry.
This project, plus the other 6 others approved for El Bierzo, have been selected, within the Futur-e Plan, to revitalize said region through a program that foresees the occupation of the site of the old thermal power station, as well as the use of equipment used in the facility. These initiatives add around 160 new jobs and an investment of more than 260 million euros.
The selection of business projects has been carried out through an international competition aimed at mitigating the end of the thermal generation activity, in compliance with the objectives set by Brussels. Endesa adds to this process, among other actions, the development of 625 renewable megawatts (MW) in the area, the organization of professional training courses, as well as the prioritization of local labor in the dismantling of the old thermal power plant.
Reciclalia Composite is a leading Spanish company in technological innovation within the environmental sector.
Its commitment to research at the highest level, both in recycling processes and the design of recycled composite materials, has led it to develop two disruptive technologies and two international patents for cutting and recycling wind turbine blades, which has made it a pioneering company in Europe in the recycling of fiberglass from the wind sector and one of the 3 main players in carbon fiber recycling.
Endesa is the leading electricity company in Spain and the second in Portugal. It is also the second gas operator in the Spanish market. It develops an integrated business from generation to marketing and also offers, through Endesa X, value-added services aimed at decarbonizing energy uses in homes, companies, industries and Public Administrations. Endesa is firmly committed to the United Nations SDGs and, as such, decisively promotes the development of renewable energies, the electrification of the economy and Corporate Social Responsibility. In this last area we also act from the Endesa Foundation. Our human team totals around 10,000 employees. Endesa is part of Enel, the largest electricity group in Europe.
PreZero in Spain and Portugal
With more than 17,000 employees and a presence in more than 600 municipalities, PreZero in Spain and Portugal provides environmental services to more than 15 million citizens and manages more than 140 treatment facilities: eco-parks, composting plants, industrial plants, circular economy plants , transfer centers and controlled deposits.