The renewable energy sector has long prioritized sustainability, but technology has lagged behind the industry’s good intentions in many cases until lately. Wind turbines, for example, were designed from the start to be made with up to 90 percent recyclable materials. Certain components, however, were almost impossible to build using entirely recyclable materials at the time, while simultaneously demonstrating the requisite strength and durability for effective and reliable functioning.
Turbine blades, which needed extra strength to endure persistent weather exposure and damage, as well as motor housings, which had to withstand steady vibration from continuous motor activity, were the most visible of these components. Non-recyclable fiberglass or perhaps glass-reinforced polymers have historically been utilized in the production of these components, making them difficult to recycle.
Wind turbines often have a lifespan of a maximum of 25 years, indicating that development at the expense of utilizing such materials has been effective. However, when first-generation wind turbines reach the closure of their useful life, the issue of how to dispose of these non-reusable elements and non-recyclable arises. Images of the “wind turbine graveyards” have been circulating on the internet, raising questions about how defunct turbines would be disposed of in the future. Thankfully, the development of entirely recyclable blades that don’t require the use of fiberglass or even glass reinforced polymers seems to be on the horizon.
Current advances in the renewable energy sector have created numerous intellectual property opportunities. The strength as well as structural stability of retired blades, for example, are being used to reinforce concrete walls, bridges, buildings, and other structures in numerous countries.
Chemically, techniques are currently being developed to chemically disintegrate turbine blades to recover the fiberglass as well as other reusable elements that can be utilized for future turbine blades, and also a variety of the other applications in the oil, automobile, and construction industries. Furthermore, materials experts are hard at work developing innovative ways to create future turbine blades to enhance their recyclability as well as the wind turbine industry’s overall sustainability.
As a greater number of the older generation renewable power sources, like wind turbines, reach the end of their useful lives in the future years, the demand for decommissioning as well as replacement services will only increase, and competition will inevitably arise. Proactive intellectual property planning will safeguard established businesses when these difficulties arise, as well as protect emerging enterprises in this fast-growing industry that are vying for market dominance. Companies will benefit from joining up with Lewis Roca’s, patent experts who comprehend the renewable energy business and the underpinning materials and can deliver the best approach on their intellectual property demands, given the wide range of technologies involved.