MIL-OSI Europe: Written question – Challenge of recycling composite materials in renewable energy technologies – E-004095/2021

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Source: European Parliament

On 24 August, the European Environment Agency noted that, due to the growth of renewable energy, the waste it produced would increase dramatically between 2020 and 2030:

by 3000%, to 1.5 million tonnes, for photovoltaics;

by 200%, to 4.75 million tonnes, for wind energy;

and by 600%, to 240 000 tonnes, for energy storage and mobility.

This waste often contains composite materials that are difficult to recycle and hazardous to health and the environment. For example, wind turbines contain glass and carbon fibres to make light blades which are resistant to wind and corrosion. The same applies to solar energy, which uses bismuth and manganese composites to optimise the efficiency of photovoltaic cells.

The problem is that there are not enough recycling facilities and the technologies are not yet sufficiently developed. In addition, the price of recycled materials needs to be competitive.

The Commission is funding research on the recycling of rare metals and minerals. But is it also funding research to develop non-polluting recyclable composites?

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