After almost three decades of producing renewable energy, German onshore wind turbines are finally reaching the end of their life. A strategy for the end-of-life process is required, particularly when it comes to waste management, reuse of valuable materials and a firm political framework.
The German Federal Environment Agency entrusted Ramboll to find solutions. As one of the world’s leading environmental consultancies with 30 years’ experience in policy management and the wind industry, we are qualified to develop a circular economy approach for the German wind energy sector.
Reusing raw materials and minimising environmental impact
Wind turbines consist of many components, including fiberglass-reinforced plastics, transmissions, permanent magnets and lubricants. Although some of these materials can be reappropriated into the production cycle during dismantling, others need to be disposed of responsibly. Our role involves surveying and documenting current practice and assessing the waste streams, as well as developing a best practice guide for optimised management of the waste streams.
Ferdinand Zotz (Senior Managing Consultant, Germany) says, “The competences of our Environment & Heath, Management Consulting and Energy teams in this project complemented each other perfectly.”
As legislation determines the modern and sustainable management of waste streams, the circular economy project will require an understanding of regulatory guidance and legislation. Our experts evaluate the options and give recommendations for effective policies, weighing technical and political aspects.
Joachim Schmidtke (Managing Principal, Munich) says, “The recommendations derive from our knowledge of the technical aspects and know-how in policy design. In all aspects of this project, Ramboll is capable of advising at the highest level. Naturally this is an advantage for making recommendations.”
Looking to the future
Wind turbines already play a major – and increasing – role in Germany’s renewable energy sector, but channelling the feedback generated from the circular economy project will help shape the sustainable design of turbine components long into the future.