GE to produce zero waste wind turbine blades by 2030, company says

GE Renewable Energy announced a plan Tuesday to produce zero waste wind turbine blades by 2030.

The plan will be carried out by LM Wind Power, a GE Renewable Energy subsidiary, which will aim to deliver no excess manufacturing materials and packaging to landfills and incineration without energy recovery.

“Now the focus has evolved from making wind power not only competitive, but also making the industry sustainable,” LM Wind Power CEO Olivier Fontan said in a statement. “We are determined to work with our partners to reduce the carbon footprint of wind turbines; together we can be the example of how an industry transforms its value chain to support the green transition and the critical move to a circular economy.”

Nearly a third of LM Wind Power’s carbon footprint comes from waste disposal. Industry-wide, 20-25% of materials purchased by turbine blade manufacturers do not go into the final product, the company added.

Sara Peach, senior editor of Yale Climate Connections, provided the following context around the carbon footprint of wind turbines, which, while a major concern within the industry, is still much lower than fossil fuel sources of electricity:

Power plants that burn natural gas are responsible for 437 to 758 grams of CO2-equivalent per kilowatt-hour — far more than even the most carbon-intensive wind turbine listed above. Coal-fired power plants fare even more poorly in comparison to wind, with estimates ranging from 675 to 1,689 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour, depending on the exact technology in question.

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