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SUEZ develops wind turbine end of life expertise

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Energy Global,

Wind energy plays a major role on a global scale in the transition to decarbonised energies. With a recycling rate of 85 - 90%, the wind market must go further in its circular economy approach. Already committed for several years in the dismantling of waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), airplanes and end-of-life vehicles, SUEZ now supports energy operators and manufacturers in the recycling of end-of-life wind turbines.

After 15 - 20 years in operation, wind turbines must be replaced by next-generation equipment that is more high-performing and powerful. In France, approximately 1500 turbines will have to be dismantled in the next five years1. Ahead of the French national regulation aimed at mandatory recycling by 2023, SUEZ is already supporting wind farm managers and manufacturers in the recovery of first-generation wind turbines. Indeed, SUEZ has been using its expertise for onsite dismantling since June 2019. For example, the Group operated two dismantling sites for first-generation wind turbines in Port-La-Nouvelle, near Narbonne (southern France), with a national wind farm manager, with a recovery rate of 98%, including 97% for material recovery.

Once the wind turbines have been dismantled, SUEZ extracts the different materials (steel, copper, aluminium, cables, fiberglass, waste electrical and electronic equipment) and directs them to the most suitable recycling channels, taking into account the environmental footprint of transport. All material flows are rigorously identified and traced until they are recycled, and a complete material assessment is submitted to the wind farm manager. This recovery avoids the extraction of fossil resources and rare virgin materials.

SUEZ also provides technical support in the dismantling and recovery of wind turbine blades and has already recycled more than 20 blades extending up to 50 m in length for various sites across France. The Group also works with turbine manufacturers on the logistics and recycling of materials which have already been dismantled. In 2021, several dismantling projects are scheduled for wind turbines with blades of 25 - 40 m in length.

SUEZ is also part of the ZEBRA project, led by the IRT Jules Verne advanced research institute, for the development of 100% recyclable composite wind turbine blades. Launched in September 2020, the project gathers industrial players and research centres, and aims to demonstrate the technical, economic, and environmental feasibility of thermoplastic wind turbine blades, using an eco-design approach to facilitate recycling.

Fabrice Rossignol, CEO Recycling & Recovery France, states:

SUEZ aims to be a key player in the dismantling of wind turbines with overall control of deconstruction and management of all waste streams to be recycled. We seek to support the various players in renewable energies, wind farm managers, turbine manufacturers, and energy suppliers, in shaping a virtuous and circular economy.



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