In fact, alternative materials have been Finland Email List incorporated into the initial production stage of the blades since at least 2014, and have gone into full production after significant supply problems occurred in 2020, including materials such as Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), a low-density foam generated from plastic bottles. Consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie has forecast that the proportion of PET Finland Email List use “will increase from 20% in 2018 to more than 55% by 2023, while demand for balsa will remain stable”. Some of the biggest wind turbine producers are already abandoning the use of balsa wood. Vestas, a world leader in the sector, told openDemocracy it had “significantly reduced” its Finland Email List usage of balsa, instead utilising alternative materials.

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It said that only two of its turbine Finland Email List variants still have blades that use balsa. For those two models that still use balsa, the wood “only accounts for 150 kilograms per blade”. An added problem for the blades is their recyclability. The first generation of wind turbines are starting to reach the end of their lifespan, meaning approximately 14,000 wind blades will be dismantled in Europe Finland Email List by 2023, according to Ramón González-Drigo, professor in strength of materials and structural engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Spain. “Currently, between 85 and 90% of the total mass of wind generators can be recycled,” González-Drigo told Finland Email List democraciaAbierta.

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“But the blades represent a Finland Email List challenge due to the composite materials that make them up and whose recycling requires very specific processes.” For all these reasons, the change of technology is urgent, although the damage to communities and the ecosystem has already been done. Pressure on rural populations The socio-environmental impact of wind farms does not end with the issue of Finland Email List massive deforestation of Amazonian balsa. Many of the regions in Europe that host these wind farms are experiencing serious socio-economic and environmental disruption from ever-larger wind turbines. Wind farms require constant wind conditions in relatively unpopulated Finland Email List territories, where opposition from local populations is weak.

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