The Northern Times, By Alan Hendry, 13:00, 12 September 2021
More than 5000 wind turbines will be decommissioned in Scotland within the next 30 years – opening up the prospect of a green jobs boost, according to a new report.
The country’s first forecast into onshore wind decommissioning was published by Zero Waste Scotland, whose chief executive highlighted the economic opportunities that could be on offer.
The report – entitled The Future of Onshore Wind Decommissioning in Scotland – finds that around 5500 wind turbines will be decommissioned in Scotland by 2050. Zero Waste Scotland says this represents “a quantified opportunity to grow Scotland’s remanufacturing sector in line with net-zero ambitions”.
The findings identify a need for future reprocessing infrastructure and storage locations to support the demands of wind turbine decommissioning, as well as opportunities to increase skills and expertise in the reuse and refurbishment of wind turbines in Scotland.
Scotland’s minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater, said: “There is a huge circular economy opportunity in Scotland’s already thriving renewable energy sector.
“Scotland’s renewable energy businesses have already helped to deliver significant reductions in our energy emissions and provided high-quality green jobs. Now, with many of the first generation of turbines reaching the end of their working lifespan, we have an opportunity to repurpose those valuable materials into new energy infrastructure or for other high-value use.
“By embracing the circular economy, Scotland’s renewable sector can become even greener, while also delivering more high-skilled jobs in Scotland.”
Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland said: “Like anything else, wind turbines and their parts require maintenance and refurbishment and eventually reach an end-of-life.
“In forecasting the scale of materials set to be released through wind turbine decommissioning, this report presents Scotland with a fantastic opportunity to embed circular solutions into the resource management of these materials.
“Decommissioning and refurbishment of wind turbines will release valuable metals like steel and iron and component parts like gear mechanisms into circulation, thereby unlocking potential for economic gain.
“However, as these materials are currently exported for recycling, the Scottish economy is losing the value of these resources. Based on this report’s findings, we have quantified the scale of the opportunity and I hope we can act to seize the economic opportunities represented.
“Onshore wind decommissioning is fast becoming a practical problem for many European countries. To date, across Europe, 34,000 turbines are known to be 15 years or older.
“There will be a big market for decommissioning onshore wind farms over the next decade and, if we act now, Scotland is in a prime position to provide a circular solution and establish a competitive advantage.”