Task 3.2 Value Chain Analysis and Traceability

To define a solid value chain is essential in the process of recycling wind turbine blades. A technical solution alone is not sufficient to enable successful recycling. Identification of the key steps and the key partners are crucial as well as understanding the logistics needed and setting up a logical path. In addition, a technical study should be coupled with an economic study in order to determine the feasibility of any proposed solution and the potential for upscaling. A barrier to investment in the upscaling of recycling and repurposing technology has been the level of uncertainty regarding the supply of decommissioned blades. Some indication of the quality, magnitude and timing of this supply would provide some confidence to investors. This will be quantified in subtask 2.2. Another consideration is to examine the business case for the various end-of-life choices (see task 3.3). Repurposing may be a profitable option as there are markets for many of the possible target products (Bank et al, 2020).

Traceability is key and may be understood in two ways: tracing the location of the blades and tracing the information about the blade material. How to be able to trace back the materials in the blades through the entire lifetime and through several lifetimes? This may involve the use of a decentralised ledger technology such as blockchain, which could keep track of the ownership, origin and properties of blades in any second hand market which is already evolving. An advantage of using such methods is that there are very low costs for such a registry system and very high levels of security. The use of digital twins for wind turbine blades will also allow greater traceability of blade materials and blade degradation, which is important in order to inform recycling decisions. Here, exchange of knowledge with IEA Wind Task 43 on Wind Digitalization may be useful.

Paul Task 45

Paul Leahy
UCC, University College of Cork


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