End-of-Life Alternatives for Wind Turbine Blades: Sustainability Indices Based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

31 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2021

See all articles by Peter Deeney

Peter Deeney

School of Engineering, University College Cork

Angela J Nagle

University College Cork - Environmental Research Institute

Fergal Gough

University College Cork

Heloisa Lemmertz

University College Cork

Emma L. Delaney

Queens University Belfast

Jennifer M. McKinley

Queen's University Belfast - School of Natural and Built Environment

Conor Graham

Queens University Belfast

Paul G. Leahy

University College Cork

Niall Dunphy

University College Cork

Gerard Mullally

University College Cork

Date Written: April 24, 2021

Abstract

The background to this research is that across the world there will be 200,000 tonnes of wind turbine blade waste to be disposed of each year from 2033. The purpose of the research is to compare the relative sustainability of alternative ways to deal with this waste, these being: landfill, incineration with heat recovery, co-processing in cement kilns, making furniture and bridge fabrication. The method is to use the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to select 11 metrics for sustainability. The use of the SDGs adds to the objectivity of this process overcoming one of the principal weaknesses of Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). Quantitative information methods from Life Cycle Assessment, Geographic Information Science, census data and real options analysis of R&D, alongside qualitative information from Delphi studies and Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats analysis are combined in the assessment. Three MCDA methods are used, each calculates economic, social and environmental sustainability indices for the end-of-life alternatives which are then combined into integrated sustainability indices. A novel Delphi stopping condition based on consensus, consistency and convergence is used. The primary result is that bridge fabrication is the most sustainable alternative with furniture making in second place. Co-processing, incineration with heat recovery and landfill are progressively less sustainable alternatives. This result is robust to substantial changes in the selection of experts’ opinions, the weights for MCDA and the values of the metrics. These findings offer researchers and policymakers a robust decision making process, applicable to situations where choices are made on sustainability criteria.

Keywords: Composite Recycling, Glass Fibre Reinforced Polymer (GFRP), Delphi Study, Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Geographic Information Science (GIS)

JEL Classification: Q57, Q56, D81, Q01

Suggested Citation

Deeney, Peter and Nagle, Angela J and Gough, Fergal and Lemmertz, Heloisa and Delaney, Emma L. and McKinley, Jennifer M. and Graham, Conor and Leahy, Paul G. and Dunphy, Niall and Mullally, Gerard, End-of-Life Alternatives for Wind Turbine Blades: Sustainability Indices Based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (April 24, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3835115 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3835115

Peter Deeney (Contact Author)

School of Engineering, University College Cork ( email )

5 Bloomfield Terrace Western Road
Cork
Ireland
Cork (Fax)

Angela J Nagle

University College Cork - Environmental Research Institute ( email )

Lee Road
Cork
Ireland

Fergal Gough

University College Cork ( email )

5 Bloomfield Terrace Western Road
Cork
Ireland

Heloisa Lemmertz

University College Cork ( email )

5 Bloomfield Terrace Western Road
Cork
Ireland

Emma L. Delaney

Queens University Belfast ( email )

Ireland

Jennifer M. McKinley

Queen's University Belfast - School of Natural and Built Environment ( email )

Conor Graham

Queens University Belfast ( email )

Ireland

Paul G. Leahy

University College Cork ( email )

5 Bloomfield Terrace Western Road
Cork
Ireland

Niall Dunphy

University College Cork ( email )

5 Bloomfield Terrace Western Road
Cork
Ireland

Gerard Mullally

University College Cork ( email )

5 Bloomfield Terrace Western Road
Cork
Ireland

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
55
Abstract Views
456
Rank
697,324
PlumX Metrics