Windy Woes

Solving Wind Power’s Hidden Pollution Problem




The U.S. Department of Energy reports that although wind power accounts for just over 4 percent of domestic electrical generation, it comprises a third of all new electric capacity. Even with the freedom from coal or oil that wind power creates, a major component of the generating devices, the turbine blades, has its own carbon footprint that needs examining.

Some of the blades are as long as a football field, and the metal, fiberglass or carbon composites must be mined, refined, manufactured and transported, all consuming energy and creating materials that are difficult to recycle when they reach the end of their usefulness and are replaced. Christopher Niezrecki, a member of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Wind Energy Research Group, estimates the United States will have as many as 170,000 wind turbines by 2030, creating more than 34,000 discarded blades each year.

The next generation of blade material may come from natural cellulose fibers and bio-based plastics derived from soybean, linseed and other vegetable oils, instead of oil-based polymers. A $1.9 million National Science Foundation grant is funding the research.


Source: FastCoexist.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Green Crisis

Out of 391,000 known species of plants, only 30,000 have had their uses documented, and as many as a fifth are in grave danger due to invasive species, disease and changing landscapes.

School Haze

To improve air quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is offering school districts up to $25,000 to retrofit or replace an older diesel-fueled bus to cut emissions.

Scrambling Species

A warming planet strongly influences bird migration patterns, which in turn allows some species to thrive while others struggle to survive.

Green Serenity

Farmers in Sikkim, in the Indian Himalayas, use only manure and compost on crops 12 years after pesticides and fertilizers were banned in the state.

Moth Misery

Entire ecosystems rest on the delicate wings of moths, yet they’re dying off in distressing numbers from causes ranging from pesticides to urban lights.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags