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What to do with used wind turbine blades

As wind power companies look to upgrade their facilities, and as turbine blades start wearing out, there is a question: Where to dispose of the old blades?

North Dakota Public Service Commission chairman Brian Kroshus said there are roughly 1750 turbine blades in use right now in the state.

"If you add up the weight of the fiberglass material, in terms of the blades, it's just over 26 million tons of fiberglass waste," Kroshus said.

Kroshus saids it has become a concern in some other states. And he said he’s talking to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality about this.

"It's considered a solid waste," Kroshus said. "It can be disposed of in landfills that are capable of handling it."

But Kroshus said that's part of the challenge, because there aren't that many landfills in North Dakota capable of handling that volume of blade waste.

Kroshus said DEQ told him there have been a couple of occasions where used blades have been disposed of in landfills in our state.

"What they're doing is they're cutting the blades in thirds, and then sliding them into one another," Kroshus said. "That's to reduce the volume the landfills have to handle."

Kroshus said the discussions need to continue on this, as wind farms repower.

"The blades are now beginning to reach the end of their useful life," Kroshus said. "There will be a number of wind facilities that will retrofit."

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