A Swiss startup is mounting solar panels on used wind turbine blades

A Swiss startup is using reclaimed wind turbine blades instead of metal beams as horizontal supports for solar panels.

Solar panels, meet wind turbine blades

Founded in 2022, Turn2Sun is based in Neuchâtel and calls its use of second-life wind turbine blades to support solar panels “Blade2Sun.”

The company explains, “The strength of the blades enables structures with broad wingspan, covering large areas with minimal ground use, thanks to spaced-out foundations. This in turns lets you install large PV arrays with reduced impact on the land underneath.”

Turn2Sun and the federal department Armasuisse partnered up and carried out a pilot in Grisons, in the Swiss Alps (pictured above), at an altitude of 2,500 m (8,202 feet). The prototype had around 16 430-watt solar panels attached to 8.4-meter (27.5-foot) wind turbine blades.

The Alpine pilot confirmed that Blade2Sun is feasible, even in extreme conditions.

Why use blades this way?

There are more than 340,000 wind turbines currently installed worldwide. In Europe alone, around 25,000 wind turbines will reach end-of-life in the next few years.

Although it’s possible to recycle more than 95% of a wind turbine’s components, the blades are still challenging to recycle, as they’re made from composite materials (mostly fiberglass). As a result, used blades are mainly burned in cement plants or incineration plants. Wind turbine blades’ exceptional resistance properties that allow them to cut through the air at over 300 km/h (186 mph) could be used differently, as Invest Western Switzerland points out.

So what’s next for this creative use of old wind turbine blades? Lionel Perret, cofounder of Turn2Sun, said:

Several global players are interested in our solution. We’re developing partnerships to be able to offer the solution in other countries, also integrating larger wind turbine blades.

What do you think of giving old wind turbine blades a new life as solar support? Let us know in the comments down below.

Read more: A Danish wind turbine giant just discovered how to recycle all blades

Photo: Turn2Sun

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