Filthy Future: The Staggering Cost of Cleaning Up ‘Clean’ Energy’s Toxic Mess

Posted: October 29, 2019 by oldbrew in Big Green, Energy, Subsidies, wind
Tags: ,

What really happens – if anything – to land-based wind turbines at the end of their brief working lives?


Wind turbines don’t run on wind, they run on subsidies: cut the subsidies and once these things inevitably grind to a halt, they’ll never be replaced.

With an economic lifespan of something like 10-12 years (rather than the overblown 25 put forward by turbine makers and wind power outfits), over the next decade countries like Germany will be left with hundreds of thousands of 2-300 tonne ‘problems’ littering the landscape. With hundreds of turbines totally kaput, Germans have already been smacked with the harsh and toxic reality of their government’s so-called ‘green’ obsession.

And they aren’t alone.

Iowa’s wind industry has been going for barely a decade and already wind power outfits are sending thousands of tonnes of toxic waste to landfill.

In addition to 10-15 tonne toxic plastic and fibreglass blades, there’s a smorgasbord of toxic plastics, oils, lubricants, metals and fibreglass in the tower and nacelle; and…

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  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    I think that a little less hysteria is needed. The blades are either (thermoset) polyester or epoxy with glass fibre reinforcement. Granted that either isn’t useful but Toxic??? Toxic to what? It MIGHT be bad for humans and animals if ground down to particle and swallowed, but why grind it down in the first place? The same for the nacelle body.
    The towers are steel and could be recycled (probably costing more than new material).
    That leaves the oil, generator and magnetic parts. The last could be a source of rare earths, possibly some cobalt and (without doubt) lots of copper wiring. Recycling is likely to be profitable.
    The oil would (in the real world) be disposed of by burning.
    That leaves the controller with lots of computer parts, probably obsolete but hardly toxic.

  3. tom0mason says:

    Ho-humm, the chickens come home …

    I did point this out about 10 years ago and was laughed off some blogs. My ‘back of the envelope’ figures (given the rate of new installation then) indicated that the UK would have more scrap hardware than landfill to accommodate them within 40-50 years.
    And if those windmills are not replaced, then what of all those expensive computer controls, all that MV/HV cabling and pylons? They’ll have to stripped out also.
    Now add to that all the broken solar panels, both from domestic and industrial installations, that are accumulating poisoning the ground and water …

    P.S What has happened to all those Mercury filled ‘eco’ compact fluorescent bulbs that have been thrown out over the years? In landfill no doubt slowly poisoning the water …
    A land of scenic views of windmill stumps and pylons for nothing, land filled with broken windmills components, broken solar cells, rivers and lakes carrying cadmium, mercury, lead, etc.

    It was at one time, a green and pleasant land.

    Here’s an idea — what about making the land productive with farms growing grains, vegetables, and fruits and having grazing animals outside to feed on the natural goodness in the fields.

    How about deindustrializing the countryside!

  4. oldbrew says:

    Big Wind’s Dirty Little Secret: Toxic Lakes and Radioactive Waste
    OCTOBER 23, 2013

    Estimates of the exact amount of rare earth minerals in wind turbines vary, but in any case the numbers are staggering. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Sciences, a 2 megawatt (MW) wind turbine contains about 800 pounds of neodymium and 130 pounds of dysprosium. The MIT study cited above estimates that a 2 MW wind turbine contains about 752 pounds of rare earth minerals.

    To quantify this in terms of environmental damages, consider that mining one ton of rare earth minerals produces about one ton of radioactive waste, according to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

    In 2012, the U.S. added a record 13,131 MW of wind generating capacity. That means that between 4.9 million pounds (using MIT’s estimate) and 6.1 million pounds (using the Bulletin of Atomic Science’s estimate) of rare earths were used in wind turbines installed in 2012. It also means that between 4.9 million and 6.1 million pounds of radioactive waste were created to make these wind turbines.

  5. MrGrimNasty says:

    The problem environmentalists have is that there is hysteria (largely unfounded in my opinion) over plastic waste from whole bags/lumps to micro. The DMail carries one of more of these eco-fanatic propaganda sausage machine stories nearly every day, together with PM air pollution fake news. The DM is hyperventilating about Phthalates today – whereas they may well be harmful at some levels, any levels from plastic pollution leakage are ridiculously small. Many plastic resins (and their hardeners) were considered extremely toxic and/or carcinogenic when I worked with them years ago – but once set, unless you milled them up into fine dust and inhaled or ate vast amounts, they were pretty harmless.

    Of course the turbine blades erode, and by the end of an off-shore windfarm’s life, undoubtedly tons of microplastic will have passed into the food chain – ‘they’ never mention that.

    What to do with the old blades – burn them for energy/heat along with all the other plastic waste – it’s the only sane answer. The poster child of ‘green’ Sweden, even imports UK waste to burn. Modern incinerators are as clean as can be.

  6. ivan says:

    Although the turbine blades may not be toxic like solar panels they do take up a massive amount of room in landfill sites which could be better used for domestic landfill.

  7. stpaulchuck says:

    and what’s the cost of the dead birds and bats?? Especially the Endangered ones?

    Small nuclear generators, typically pebble bed design, are much more sane and take next to nothing in terms of land area and have massive power density numbers compared to these idiot windmills and solar (subsidy?) farms.

  8. Husq says:

    Looks like they are on it?

    Decommissioned wind turbine blades used for cement co-processing.

  9. oldbrew says:

    Husq – maybe…

    Currently the process is only suitable for glass reinforced composites, but the partnership is exploring a number of solutions for recycling ageing wind turbines.

  10. ivan says:

    Husq, that ‘report’ is typical of all green projects – long on rhetoric, very short on details and uses a lot of tax payers money.

    Until they publish actual figures about energy used to recycle those blades, number of blades recycled per hour, how the resultant cement compares with ‘normal’ cement everything about it is just pie in the sky looking for other peoples money so they can virtue signal.

  11. Stephen Richards says:

    Graeme No.3 says:
    October 29, 2019 at 10:42 am

    That leaves the nearly 1000 tonnes of steel and concrete in the ground. Never to be used for growing food in the distant future

  12. oldbrew says:

    The disused concrete bases will be like tombstones.

  13. oldbrew says:

    Orsted Lowers Offshore Wind Output Forecasts, Warns of Industrywide Problem

    The industry leader now expects lower rates of return on its offshore wind projects, citing forecasting issues.


    ‘The underlying issue is an underestimation of wake and blockage effects. Ørsted insists the problem is not company-specific, but rather an industrywide issue — adding that its forecasts are usually more conservative than those of third parties.’