Joe Biden Advances Wind Power as Massive Used Turbine Blades Are Dumped in Landfills 

This photo taken on June 4, 2013 shows the blades of a soon-to-be-installed turbine at the Salkhit Mountain wind farm, 70 kilometres from Ulan Bator. The wind farm, which will be Mongolia's first, is due to open on June 20 and is part of the government's attempts to reduce air …
MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden wasted no time declaring war on fossil fuels and pushing the expansion of renewable energy, including a massive wind power project off the Massachusetts coast. The move comes as reports surface on how used turbine blades are being dumped in landfills.

Biden signed an executive order on January 27, calling for the Department of the Interior to “identify steps to accelerate responsible development of renewable energy on public lands and waters.”

Newsday reported on Biden’s green energy agenda:

Biden on Jan. 27 signed an executive order calling for the Interior Department to “identify steps to accelerate responsible development of renewable energy on public lands and waters,” a stark change from the Trump administration, which had slowed federal approvals.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Wednesday released a statement saying it would restart the environmental review and work to develop a final environmental impact statement needed to approve the project’s construction and operations plan. The project, called Vineyard Wind, a company based in New Bedford, Massachusetts, had withdrawn its application for the construction plan for the 800-megawatt project, one of the first expected to come online, to review the prospect of using larger turbines.

For the developers of the South Fork Wind Farm, a LIPA-contracted project that is scheduled to supply power to the South Fork by 2023, news of the Vineyard Wind advancement, and the Biden administration’s commitment to wind, was welcome news.

“I do think it’s a strong signal right out of the gate from the Biden administration,” Fred Zalcman, head of government affairs for Danish energy giant Orsted, which with Eversource is developing the South Fork 130-megawatt project, said. “We’ve all been in a holding pattern for the better part of a year.”

But as the Biden administration, the alternative energy industry, and environmentalists tout the new push for “clean energy,” reports have surfaced that the massive blades used on the wind turbines are not easily recycled and are being buried in landfills.

The Texas Standard detailed the used blades scenario, including interview a reporter who looked into wind power pollution:

Texas is a leader in wind-generated energy, with wind turbines and their massive blades dotting the western half of the state. But that equipment has a lifespan. Turbines last about 25-30 years, and their blades are usually replaced at least once during that time.

Freelance journalist Kate Hill recently reported for the Texas Observer that discarded blades often end up in landfills. But new options are emerging that could give them a second life.

“What’s currently being done with most decommissioned blades?” the news outlet asked Hill.

“They’re laid down in the field next to the turbine, or they’re sent to a landfill,” Hill said. “It’s really jarring to just see the massive volume of fiberglass ending up in landfills. These blades are, you know, hundreds of feet long, and they’re usually cut up into, two or three or four pieces and laid down. And just to process them and just to get to that point of being able to enter the waste stream, that processing … takes a huge toll.”

The upside, Hill said, is that some have been used in cement production, and in Europe the blades have been repurposed for infrastructure projects.

But these facts should not be used to criticize wind power, Hill said.

“I don’t think that the cleanliness of wind energy is something that should get called into question as a result of this problem,” Hill said. “At the end of the day, the blades don’t leach any sort of toxic chemicals into the ground if they do end up in landfills. But the problem at hand here is really just how much space is going to be taken up if they don’t find some sort of other use or other home once they reach the end of life.”

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