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Wind turbines and circular economies

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The Koudia Al Baida wind farm in Morocco is being modernised. Image credit: The Surus Group.

Wind turbines and circular economies  

Can old wind turbines become part of the circular economy? An innovative Spanish company operating in Morocco is attempting to answer this pertinent question.              

Escrapalia, the specialised auction platform of Spanish company Surus Group, has put 73 wind turbines on public auction as part of a project to modernise the Koudia Al Baida wind farm in Morocco. The current wind turbines (which will be on auction starting in   September 2022) will be replaced with new technology.

The wind turbines were Vestas V42 turbines, manufactured between 1999 and 2000. Each wind turbine, with an output of 600kW, includes the nacelle and rotor blades.

The sale was divided into different online auctions through Escrapalia. The first of these featured 12 complete wind turbines that could be purchased as a single unit, as individual lots or as a joint lot of all ten units.

From 5 September 2022 to 29 September 2022, any investor, company, or individual could bid for these first lots. Given the magnitude of the project, the remaining auctions will be held until 5 March 2023, throughout the dismantling process.

Surus to dismantle the entire wind farm

The auction is part of the complete dismantling project of the Koudia Al Baida Wind Farm, located in Tangier-Tetouan-Al (Hoceïma). The project has been awarded by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) to Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, which in turn relies on the expertise of Surus, a Spanish company in charge not only of the sale but also of its associated processes.

Surus will manage the dismantling of the wind turbines to minimise the visual and environmental footprint. The company gained significant experience in Zas and Corme (La Coruña) recently, where 141 wind turbines were replaced by 17 wind turbines maintaining the same power output (42.3 MW).

In Malpica (La Coruña) Surus replaced 69 turbines generating 15.07 MW with seven new ones that produce 16.45MW. This represents 65% of the total MW repowering carried out in Spain.

Wind turbines and circular economies

The work in Morocco started on the 26th of September 2022 and the company expects the project to be completed by 5 March 2022.

The Surus Group has included this project in its sustainability policy based on the principles of a circular economy, seeking to extend the life cycle of equipment and reduce waste by reusing assets and recycling.

Dismantling projects are approached from the perspective of maximising the three angles of value generation: environmental, economic and social.

Wind blades turned into raw material for cement

Blade recycling is one of the biggest complications to address in terms of sustainability when repowering a wind farm, as fiberglass management is very complex.

On this project, Surus will manage the recycling of surplus blades, which will be taken to a specialised plant where they will be shredded.

This shredded material will then be delivered to a cement factory and used for the manufacture of cement, thus re-entering the production process, which means the generation of zero waste.

In this way, 241 tons of waste that would be generated by the blades alone will be avoided. In addition to managing the sale of the wind turbines, a second life will also be sought for the wind farm’s transformer substations.

In this first auction, already open for bids, 20 units of 630KVA manufactured by Alcatel are auctioned with a starting price of 150€.

Repowering the wind farm

The Koudia Al Baida Wind Farm is in the process of being repowered. The expansion plan carried out by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) aims to make it one of the largest in the Kingdom.

The wind farm has been operating since year 2000 with a capacity of 50.4MW based on 84 wind turbines. Thanks to this repowering project, it will increase its capacity to about 100MW.

The repowering involves dismantling the existing turbines and replacing them with a new generation of more efficient wind turbines.

Wind turbines and circular economies

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Wind turbines and circular economies   

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