Wind turbine recycling bill passes Senate

Sen. Jeff Wilson’s bill would launch WSU study of blade recycling

OLYMPIA – A bill holding green energy to green standards won passage in the state Senate Monday, as a bill launching a study of wind-turbine blade recycling won unanimous approval, 48-0.

Senate Bill 5287, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, requires Washington State University to examine the feasibility of recycling the enormous blades, a question now receiving quiet attention in environmental circles. Typical turbine blades today can have a 170-foot span, and last 20 years.

For all their greenness, however, there are few uses for them when done. Normally the blades are cut into pieces and buried.

Wilson said he is concerned about creating waste, the burden on landfills, and the need for stewardship of wind-turbine blades through the disposal phase.

“This is a responsible step in the management of our wind generation systems,” he said. “What are we going to do with the thousands of used wind turbine blades when they reach the end of their life cycle? Simply burying these giants in our landfills is not acceptable, given our commitment to the environment. This bill provides the opportunity to explore the potential to manufacture and recycle these components right here in Washington, expanding job creation in the green energy sector.”

Concerns about wind-blade recycling are expected to grow in the future as older turbines go offline and are retired. Wind power is currently the second-largest contributor to Washington state’s power portfolio, producing nearly 3400 megawatts annually.