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GE Renewable Energy and LafargeHolcim have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore circular economy solutions utilising materials from decommissioned wind turbines.

The companies are exploring new ways of recycling wind blades, as well as how wind turbine blades can be turned into sustainable construction materials to build new wind farms.

This research builds on LafargeHolcim’s work, under its Geocycle brand, to recover energy from GE’s decommissioned turbine blades after they have been removed from the turbine and shredded. Geocycle currently offers co-processing solutions for wind blades in Germany and will evaluate the possibility of extending this solution to other parts of Europe.

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Jérôme Pécresse, CEO of GE Renewable Energy said: “This is a truly exciting next step in our journey to introduce new circular lifecycle improvements for the wind industry. We are delighted to work with LafargeHolcim on these critical projects, which will help to improve the sustainability of wind power now and well into the future.”

This next phase of collaboration between these two companies follows the 2020 announcement to co-develop wind turbine towers at record heights using concrete 3D printing together with COBOD, the Danish 3D printing start-up. Since the start of that collaboration, wind turbine tower prototypes have been developed using concrete 3D printing technology that is stronger, more efficient, and can be built ten times faster than before.

Edelio Bermejo, Head of LafargeHolcim’s Global Innovation Center said: “With sustainability at the core of our strategy, accelerating renewable energy and the circular economy are top priorities for our business. I’m very excited about this collaboration with GE Renewable Energy because it meets both goals at once.”

This announcement is the next step in both partners’ focus on circular solutions and comes at a good time for the European market. The European Commission has adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan, one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal and nearly 10GW of ageing turbines in Europe are expected to be repowered or decommissioned by 2025, according to GE.