It’s a cautionary tale with a European twist and implications for Alberta.
Spain’s feet-first foray into renewable power has hit a snag after the country will be forced to dismantle more than 36% of its aging fleet of wind turbines within the next five years.
According to the national Wind Business Association (AEE), that amounts to around 7,500 towers, turbines and more than 20,000 blades that have to be dismantled, transported and recycled — a feat that poses significant cost and logistical challenges.
With the exception of the fibreglass blades, about 85% of components such as steel, copper wire and generators can be reused and the country is scrambling to build recycling plants and facilities to process them all. But the sticking point is the blades themselves, which only few landfills in the country and the EU will accept as waste.
Despite being 31% smaller than Alberta, Spain generates about 10 times more wind power.
According to the AEE, about one in three existing turbines was installed prior to 2005 and have an estimated working lifespan of 20-25 years.
That’s not stopping the government from moving ahead with ambitious plans to double its wind power target to 62 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 compared to nearly 30GW at present.
To meet it, developers would have to nearly triple the amount of annual installations to 4GW per year from the 1.4GW achieved in 2022. By contrast, Alberta had about 3.6GW of capacity in 2022, double the year before.
That’s despite the fact that Spain already has one of the most developed wind industries in Europe — indeed, the world — integrating almost the entire supply chain from manufacturing of the turbines themselves and the operation of more than 1,345 wind farms in 850 municipalities that cover an area barely two-thirds the size of Alberta.
And like Alberta, Spain is facing a public backlash over the proliferation of wind farms, their size and indirect impacts on issues like recycling and reclamation.
Nonetheless it is facing a growing backlash in provinces like Galicia that have imposed moratoria on new wind projects…
Read the full article here.