Eastern Iowa Company Assuring Wind Turbine Blades Stay Out of Landfills
The number of wind turbines casting their shadows on the Iowa landscape continues to increase. Since the three blades that turn on each turbine have a maximum lifespan of 30 years, there's a huge question. Where do they go once their ability to produce energy ends? A company in eastern Iowa has found a way to help.
Vestas is a company that calls itself a "market leader in the North American wind industry". Based in Portland, Oregon, Vestas in Marengo, Iowa is recycling wind turbines after their 25 to 30-year lifespan is complete.
Grady Howell, who's the Program Manager for Vestas' recycling program told KCRG, "The blade has either been damaged or reached (the) end of life or what have you and then we'll come out and take care of them."
Those wind turbine blades can be drastically different in size. Some are human size while others can weigh as much as 50,000 pounds. So what does Vestas due with the blades that are usually carbon fiber, balsa wood, and composites once they get them to Marengo? They grind them up and send the product to a partner who makes cement. Howell explains, "... that's what's used to offset the fossil fuels that they use to create their cement."
Before programs like Vestas' came along, the blades all went to landfills. Something that is not sustainable. That becomes more obvious every day, especially when you consider that as of the spring of 2021, the Des Moines Register said more than half the power consumed in Iowa was being created by wind turbines. At that time, there were almost 5,900 of them in the state. That number continues to go up, and it's only one state. Recycling is a must.