Wind energy straddles a lot of conservation and political fences.
On one hand, it holds interest for green energy production, with massive turbines on wind farms capable of capturing the force of the wind and transmitting it for immediate use or storage for future use. The International Energy Agency says 108 gigawatts of onshore wind energy was installed in 2020, doubling 2019 numbers.
But on the other hand, the adoption of big wind farms has drawn the ire of some groups that worry about wildlife hitting the towers while some people complain the giant towers obscure their view. (The Kennedy family effectively halted a development in Cape Cod near their family compound 20 years ago in one of the biggest examples of the fight against them.)
But that NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude has been changing. A new wind farm proposal in Cape Cod very close to the Kennedy compound gained favor of most residents and business groups.
Momentum in favor of wind power globally prompted Swiss composites supplier Gurit to buy 60 percent of Fiberline Composites A/S, a Danish manufacturer of pultruded carbon and glass-fiber products used in the wind blade production, in a deal with 58 million Swiss francs ($59.3 million) with another 20 million francs ($20.4 million) in debt assumption.
But here's another thorny issue facing wind turbines: While they may have a long life, eventually turbine blades need to be replaced. The carbon-fiber and glass-fiber reinforcement makes them pretty much impossible to recycle back into new blades. (Fiberline recycles its blades into cement production, with 30 percent burned for energy and 70 percent in material replacement in cement facilities.)
A few secondary uses have been developed, such as converting them into bicycle parking structures or pedestrian bridges, but as wind energy grows, expect more people to question what happens once the blades are no longer needed.