Are you interested in renewable energies and do you question the prospects of circularity for wind energy?  As part of your activities, are you involved in the search for solutions to enable the repair, refurbishment, modernisation and remanufacturing as well as the recycling of wind farm infrastructures? In that case, this call is for you! 

Today, wind energy produces 10% of the energy consumed in Belgium, which makes it an essential alternative to fossil fuels, while guaranteeing an important electricity supply. For instance, the first Belgian offshore wind park was built in 2009 near Dutch territorial waters. The opening of a second zone is planned near the French coast at the end of the 2020s. Generating 254 MW, our offshore park, with 521 wind turbines, places our country among the five world leaders in offshore wind energy (together with the United Kingdom, Germany, China and Denmark).  

Despite their ecological and energy advantages, wind turbines have negative impacts on the environment at various stages of their life cycle. One single giant wind turbine can contain more than 1,500 tons of steel and concrete, which requires the extraction of a large amount of raw materials for their production. At the end of their life, they are subject to repowering, which means they are replaced by larger models with more powerful turbines to reduce costs and ensure better profitability. Nearly 5,700 wind turbines would be affected annually and could be taken out of service in Europe by 2030.  

Even if, in theory, it is possible to recycle 90% of the elements of the wind turbine (concrete, metals, etc.), nearly 80% of the dismantled wind turbines are for the moment reused elsewhere. The blades, made of composite materials (glass and carbon fiber, resin) are more difficult to recycle. They are partly reused, in a way that is sometimes far from their original function, as urban furniture (bicycle shelters in Denmark, playgrounds and public benches in the Netherlands, etc.). The rest is incinerated and recovered as energy, or landfilled.  

Inspiration for creating circular patterns  

As reusing and recycling wind turbine components is an essential issue due to the volatility of freight prices, raw materials and the market situation, this topic is part of this first call for projects.  

To inspire you and achieve the goal of increasing circularity, your project should for example promote: 

  • Solutions to enable the repair, renovation, modernisation and remanufacturing of existing infrastructure; 
  • Circularity and recycling during the repowering of the existing park; 
  • Ecodesign of the coming second offshore zone; 
  • ...