It’s not easy. Just ask the folks in Caspar, Wyoming. Not the first name to spring to mind when you wonder about finding a spot to dump trash, perhaps. But they’re having issues with clapped-out wind turbines. And their issues remind us that when people call energy clean, or zero-carbon, or green, you need to examine the entire life cycle from extraction to disposal before believing what the boosters put on the label.
Much of the material from turbine blades can be reclaimed. And should be, given what it took to extract it in the first place. But, Wyoming News Now reports, there’s still a lot of fibreglass in those blades and they’re too strong to crush. So they have to be sawn into pieces, trucked to the site, stacked and buried. And good luck biodegrading fibreglass.
Of course Wyoming does have lots of space to stick it from here to eternity. Indeed, Caspar is aggressively soliciting the stuff because it makes money taking it off people’s hands. But think of how many wind farms there are, and how many more people want to build, and make sure you do all the math, from rare earth extraction to rare bird extermination to landfills full of fibreglass before declaring that here at last is guilt-, cost- and pollution-free power.