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The blades are very difficult to recycle. However, …

Comment posted on Scottish Power Renewables announces another delay for proposed Tiree Array by Scots Renewables

The blades are very difficult to recycle. However, they are also completely inert, so could be dropped down old mineshafts or whatever with no potential for environmental damage, or made into amusing sculptures.

The blades of a typical 2-megawatt turbine weight 42 tonnes. So if we take a 500MW windfarm that means that at the end of (say) 20 years we will have 10,500 tonnes of difficult to recycle but inert and harmless material. This represents 1050 tonnes per year.

Slightly less alarming than, eg, the waste created by a typical 500-megawatt coal plant, which includes more than 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber each year.

Scots Renewables also commented

  • I’m afraid I don’t understand this comment at all. I did not say that the strapline of your website was an innuendo, I merely pointed out that it was there – presumably to make a point and not just for decoration.

    The quote in question is of course no such thing as a ‘forceful and objective statement of fact’, it is a saying or philosophy borrowed from another very different culture who (blissfully) had no concept of land ownership.

    It implies responsibility towards future generations, which is a noble sentiment and a concept which should carry much greater weight in our society. I have no argument with you there.

    Where I take issue with you is over the suggestion that you – and other anti-wind groups – are doing this to preserve the landscape for future generations and that windfarms built today will blight the landscape ‘for ever’ or ‘destroy’ it.

    Windfarms that have outlived their usefulness are going to be a very simple problem for our children and grandchildren to deal with. An atmospheric CO2 concentration beyond 450ppm or repositories of nuclear waste are not going to be such simple problems.

  • Karl,

    You seem to be determined to change the subject. We were discussing windfarm decomissioning issues. You had accused me of knowing nothing about it and claimed that wind turbine blades were in some way hazardous, referring me to what appeared to be a wholly irrelevant data sheet that made reference to carbon fibre dust.

    Did you check my link to the article about the Dutch playpark built using discarded turbine blades? Did you see the picture of the kids playing on them? And so are you still prepared to back up your claim that wind turbine blades are not inert and are in some way dangerous? Or was it just another non-fact scare story flung out by the turbophobic scattergun?

    I think you have a bit of a cheek criticising me for ‘playing the emotional card’ re. future generations. Have you forgotten that the strapline on the NTA website site is the native American quote:

    We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children

    Please don’t claim you are doing this for your kids and then accuse me of playing the emotional card.

  • Roads are in any event another red herring in Tiree’s case – the turbines are going to be sited in the sea!

    I do not understand why NTA do not simply concentrate on Tiree. I do not believe that taking on the entire wind industry is in any way going to help their cause – it is a distraction and dissipates energy that should surely be focussed on the Tiree situation.

    Here on Seil the local opposition group (PACT) lost a lot of support when it decided to start marching on parliament and getting into bed with other anti-wind groups.

  • Wind turbine blades are reinforced with carbon fibre, not built from it. The main component is GRP. Your reference to that data sheet is baffling as it shows the material in question is in fact only dangerous in dust or particulate form – as is wood and many other materials.

    In fact, discarded wind turbine blades are so dangerous that they have been used in Holland in a kids playpark

    Leaving wind turbine blades piled up in heaps is not ideal but it is certainly not dangerous.There are in any event recycling processes, and as the number of blades requiring recycling grows these will become more sophisticated and more economic.

    Decomissioning IS a trivial issue with windfarms compared to nuclear plants, oil rigs and large-scale mining operations, and by pretending it is as important as other issues when in essence it is insignificant you are in danger of trivialising and obfuscating NTA’s case.

    It is this determination of the NIMBY to attack wind turbines on any and every level, to throw everything at it and accept any dodgy alliance with climate change deniers, big business and singular political interests, that I refer to as a scattergun approach.

    If you insist on pursuing trivial arguments such as decomissioning issues or choose to ally yourself with people like Trump and any old group of middle-class NIMBYs worried about their house prices then you risk losing what credibility NTA has gained.

    Personal attacks on other peoples’ ‘environmental credibility’ do little to help your case or gain sympathy either when you make vague and unsubstantiated allegations about the ‘danger’ of used turbine blades.

  • I don’t think decomissioning offshore wind farms is going to pose much of a problem compared to decomissioning the massively complex and hazardous oil installations scattered through the North Sea.

    No-one in their right mind thinks everywhere is a suitable site for a windfarm, but decomissioning is a non-issue. I would think NTA’s best policy is to stick to the effects on the natural environment – a scattergun approach could sound a bit desperate.

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