Coalition for Wind Industry Circularity to build the capabilities to refurbish wind turbine parts in the UK

Wind Turbine

Tens of billions of pounds could be generated for the UK economy from the re-use, refurbishment and re-engineering of broken wind turbine parts, according to a new coalition involving Strathclyde and set-up to drive the creation of a circular supply chain for renewables in the UK.

Building the capabilities to refurbish wind turbine parts in the UK could also generate more than 20,000 UK jobs by 2035, and prevent more than 800,000 tonnes of parts from being scrapped.

The Coalition for Wind Industry Circularity so far comprises the University, the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), Scottish-headquartered energy company SSE Renewables, and Renewable Parts Ltd.

New components

Typically, when wind turbine parts fail or reach the end of their life, they are replaced by new components, with old parts mostly ending up as scrap. CWIC aims to change this, and establish a new, UK-based industry capable of moving towards a circular approach for replacing onshore and offshore wind components. This will not only be critical for meeting net zero ambitions and supporting energy security, but also will create thousands of jobs and support economic growth in local communities.

Analysis commissioned by the Coalition and undertaken by BVG Associates, found around 120,000 wind turbines are expected to be operational across the UK, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden by 2035.

Economic impact

According to this new analysis, a UK supply chain capable of refurbishing just ten out of the thousands of parts which make up a single wind turbine could be worth almost £10bn to the economy between 2025 and 2035. Building the capabilities in the UK to service more wind turbine parts as well as more foreign markets would increase this potential economic impact significantly.

BVG Associates also found this activity could generate more than 20,000 UK jobs by 2035 and could prevent more than 800,000 tonnes of parts being scrapped.

CWIC also released the most extensive research ever undertaken on the barriers to circularity in the wind industry, which was completed by the University and NMIS and found that most organisations were supportive of the circular economy but struggled with implementation, and the new initiative seeks to drive forward a solution.

At a launch event for the coalition, the main manufacturers of wind turbines globally – Vestas, Siemens Gamesa, GE Renewables, Nordex and Enercon – came together in Glasgow to participate in a panel discussion chaired by Chief Executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, Claire Mack, to provide openness on shared challenges and the need for greater collaboration across the industry.

Environmental potential

A ‘greenprint’ for this new coalition outlines how this collaboration can develop over the next 12 months, five years and longer term, with clear ambitions and actions which CWIC will aim to deliver. In doing so, partners of the coalition will play a key role in moving with scale, pace and scope to secure this huge economic and environmental potential for the UK.

Sir Jim McDonald, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said:

The University plays a leading role in delivering world-leading research with a distinctive approach to collaboration across industry, public sector and academia. With the University-operated National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, NMIS, we are further able to help Scotland and the wider UK address the manufacturing and engineering challenges that will support the transition to net-zero, whilst also preparing businesses for digital transformation and adopting new technology.

 

Collectively, Strathclyde and NMIS will leverage the knowledge and expertise gained from delivering several large-scale joint government-industry-academia programmes across sectors to maximise the pace and scale of impact from working with partners to support the nationally important wind sector.”

Green energy

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, said:

Circularity is good for business, good for the economy, good for society and good for the planet too. Which is why SSE Renewables, together with our partners the University of Strathclyde and Renewable Parts, have created CWIC. We know there is no time to waste and we are determined to drive this agenda forward with our peers, suppliers, policy-makers and others across our sector to lead by example on a global platform.”

James Barry, CEO of Renewables Parts said:

Our collective commitment to net zero means parts reuse must become the norm, not the exception. By rigorously applying circular economy philosophy, we can develop the technology to routinely remanufacture used parts and reduce carbon intensity.

 

In collaboration with SSE Renewables and the University of Strathclyde, Renewable Parts have developed parts remanufacture solutions that demonstrate this enormous potential. CWIC provides the opportunity for more, industry wide collaboration, creating enormous environmental and economic benefits for generations to come.”

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