Denmark Is Upcycling Old Wind Turbine Blades Into Protective Bike Shelters!

Oct 07, 2022by Olivia Harper - F&F

Bike shelters upcycled from disposed wind turbine blades? That’s right. Denmark is cleverly repurposing these non-biodegradable blades and innovating some pretty cool infrastructures around the country!

Denmark Wind TurbinesDenmark Wind Turbines

Image: Canva

There Are Some Pros And Cons To Wind Energy

With worries about climate change growing in recent years, many countries have looked to pivot their power consumption to renewable energy sources, such as wind energy. In Denmark, wind power is so common that turbines have become part of the local landscape. In fact, wind energy already provides 40% of the energy in Denmark, and they hope to reach 70% by 2030 — a fantastic target!

However, there are pros and cons to wind energy. The largest concern is the recycling of decommissioned wind turbine blades. Due to the strength required to function properly, the blades are manufactured from a composite of materials like glass fibres, resins, and foams — which are generally non-biodegradable and challenging to recycle.

Bike ShelterBike Shelter

Image: Siemens Gamesa

The Good News: Denmark Turns Old Turbine Blades Into Bike Shelters To Reduce Waste!

Wind turbine blades typically have a life span of 20 years, and soon a large number of turbines will be decommissioned. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2050 there will be almost 40 million tons of waste material from the global wind industry that will need to be disposed of… yikes!

But there’s some great news! There are several companies seeking methods to repurpose decommissioned turbine blades, such as The Re-Wind Network. Already, they’ve upcycled discarded blades into protective bike shelters around Denmark, providing a canopy for bike parking!

Some of their ideas include using the blades to build pedestrian footbridges, skate parks, and noise barriers for road and highway traffic!

Upcycled Bike ShelterUpcycled Bike Shelter

Image: Siemens Gamesa

The Potential For Recyclable Turbines To Be Created In The Future

Alongside these repurposing endeavours, groups are exploring ways to engineer wind turbine blades so they’re more efficiently disposed of, such as Siemens Gamesa. This major renewable energy company is developing and launching the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blade for commercial use!

To be degradable, these blades are made from a new type of resin where the chemical structure is easier to break down and separate from the blade’s other components, so it can be recycled. How smart is that? We love this idea of reinventing the blade materials so they can be sustainably disposed of!

But for now, imagining upcycled wind turbines as elements of urban landscapes is also a brilliant solution.

This is some profound news coming out of Denmark! We love that these groups are innovating some super creative infrastructures and preventing these discarded wind turbine blades from piling up in landfill.

We hope to see more upcycling of turbine blades around the world, as well as these new disposable turbine blades being commercially used too!

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