Endesa and PreZero España to build first wind turbine blade recycling plant in the Iberian Peninsula with the support of GE Renewable Energy

Endesa y PreZero España construirán la primera planta de reciclaje de palas eólicas de la Península Ibérica con el apoyo de GE Renewable Energy

Endesa, PreZero España and Reciclalia Composite have entered into an agreement to build and commission the first wind turbine blade recycling plant in the Iberian Peninsula, with the support of GE Renewable Energy and its subsidiary LM Wind Power, thus taking an important step towards a circular economy model in the wind energy sector.

The new facility will be located in Cubillos del Sil (León) and forms part of Endesa’s Futur-e Plan for the Compostilla industrial complex. The Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Regional Government of Castilla y León recently approved seven projects to create value in communities where the decarbonisation process is underway.

The consortium will invest €8.5m in the new infrastructure, on which construction will begin next year. The aim is to recycle over 6,000 tonnes per annum of glass fibre and carbon fibre from wind turbine blades to give these materials a second life through the implementation of circular economy criteria. The project also envisages the reuse and reincorporation of recycled glass fibre, carbon fibre and other by-products in the wind energy industry and other sectors that may require these materials. The new plant, scheduled to go into operation at the beginning of 2024, will create around 30 direct jobs, in addition to indirect employment associated with logistics.

The agreement will see GE Renewable Energy offer Spanish-based customers the option of recycling end-of-life blades in the new facility. LM Wind Power, a subsidiary of GE Renewable Energy, will supply around 50% of the surplus glass fibre generated at its blade manufacturing plants in Ponferrada (León) and Castellón. This glass fibre will be recycled for use in the construction and ceramics sectors, as well as in other applications, thus creating a circular economy in the Spanish wind energy sector.

Increasing the economic viability of blade recycling

The new facility will recycle blades and waste from other industrial production processes that give rise to waste from composite materials.

Although there are numerous solutions for efficient recycling of approximately 95% of wind turbine components, the recycling of composite materials in wind turbine blades has been a challenge for the industry.

By supplying the excess glass fibre from blade production at its two Spanish plants, in addition to end-of-life blades, GE Renewable Energy and LM Wind Power will contribute to the viability of the new facility and, in more general terms, to the development of a blade recycling industry.

This project, plus the other six projects approved for El Bierzo, have been selected within the framework of the Futur-e Plan to revitalise this region. The programme envisages the use of the site and the equipment installed in the decommissioned thermal power plant. These initiatives will create around 160 new jobs and will be the subject of total investment of over €260 million.

The business projects in the programme were selected by means of an international tender procedure aimed at mitigating the effects of decommissioning thermal power generation facilities, in compliance with EU targets. Amongst other actions, Endesa is adding value to this process through the development of 625 MW of installed renewable energy capacity in the area, the organisation of professional training courses, as well as the prioritisation of local labour in the dismantling of the old thermal power plant.