Several life cycle analyses have been carried out in order to identify the best environmental end-of-life scenarios, advantages and disadvantages of using recycled material from WT blades in other processes to obtain concrete products and multilayer panels. It has been supposed that the WT blades materials come from a hypothetical wind farm located in Spain. Likewise, it is supposed that facilities where the material recovery, the cement base material production and the multilayer panel production are carried out are located at average distances based on Spanish scenario.
This evaluation has been performed using the SimaPro software, a specific tool for developing LCAs and the world’s most widely used life cycle assessment software. Mainly the Ecoinvent 3.0 database was used. The data for the analysis have been gathered by the technological centres that are members of the consortium LIFE-BRIO project (GAIKER-IK4 and TECNALIA) and their subcontractors.
In this study, the ReCiPe midpoint (H) methodology has been selected from the available methodologies, with the purpose of determining the main environmental effects of the proposed scenarios. This method includes eighteen indicators covering the main environmental impacts.
The results obtained from the comparison between these end-of-life scenarios show that the incineration is the worst disposal scenario from an environmental point of view due to the emissions released during burning processes and the energy consumption required. Landfill shows more environmental benefits than the transportation of WT blades to a recycling plant due to fuel and energy savings. However, it should be noted that the most important influence of these scenarios is the transportation between the wind farm site and the disposal facility due to the fuel consumption. In case of this distance would be similar, the environmental categories would be close in both disposal scenarios.
After this first stage, a life cycle analysis of concrete products using upgraded glass fibre concentrate from WT blades have been performed in order to assess environmental advantages of replacing a percentage of conventional materials by recycling materials. The comparison of these LCAs show a significant reduction (from 10 to 50%) in the entire environmental indicators considered. This is due to the replacement of a 0,3% of cement and fine aggregates by upgraded glass fibre concentrate from WT blades.