Re-use, refurbishment and re-engineering of broken wind turbine parts could create 20,000 UK jobs and multi-billion-pound supply chain

CWIC, the new Coalition for Wind Industry Circularity, launched to drive creation of a circular supply chain for renewables in the UK

Tens of billions of pounds could be generated for the UK economy from the re-use, refurbishment and re-engineering of broken wind turbine parts, according to a new coalition set-up to drive the creation of a circular supply chain for renewables in the UK. Building the capabilities to refurbish wind turbine parts in the UK could also generate more than 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs by 2035, and prevent more than 800,000 tonnes of parts from being scrapped.

The group, which so far comprises Scottish-headquartered energy company SSE Renewables, the University of Strathclyde, the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) and Renewable Parts Ltd, made the statement as they launched CWIC, the new Coalition for Wind Industry Circularity today (28 March).

Typically, when wind turbine parts fail or reach the end of their life, they are replaced by new components, with old parts mostly ending up as scrap. CWIC aims to change this, and establish a new, UK-based industry capable of moving towards a circular approach for replacing onshore and offshore wind components. This will not only be critical for meeting net-zero ambitions and supporting energy security, but also will create thousands of jobs and support economic growth in local communities.

Analysis, which was commissioned by the Coalition and undertaken by BVG Associates, found around 120,000 wind turbines (584 GW of capacity) are forecast to be operational across the UK, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden by 2035.

According to this new analysis, a UK supply chain capable of refurbishing just ten out of the thousands of parts which make up a single wind turbine could access a European-wide market worth almost £10bn to UK GDP between 2025 and 2035. Building the capabilities in the UK to service more wind turbine parts as well as more export markets would increase this potential economic impact significantly.

BVG Associates also found this activity could generate more than 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs by 2035 and could prevent more than 800,000 tonnes of parts from being scrapped.
CWIC has today also released the most extensive research ever undertaken on the barriers to circularity in the wind industry, which was completed by the University of Strathclyde and the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland. The research found that most organisations were supportive of the circular economy but struggled with implementation.

This new initiative from the University, NMIS, SSE Renewables and Renewable Parts seeks to drive forward a solution.

At today's launch event for the Coalition, leading manufacturers of wind turbines globally - Vestas, GE Renewables, Nordex and Enercon - are coming together in Glasgow to participate in a panel discussion chaired by Chief Executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, Claire Mack, to provide openness on shared challenges and the need for greater collaboration across the industry.

A ‘greenprint' for this new Coalition outlines how this collaboration can develop over the next 12 months, five years and longer term, with clear ambitions and actions which CWIC will aim to deliver. In doing so, partners of the coalition will play a key role in moving with scale, pace and scope to secure this huge economic and environmental potential for the UK.

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, said:
"If the renewables sector exists to deliver the green energy the world needs for net zero, then we must face an uncomfortable truth: we can't be sustainable without fighting climate change, but we can fight climate change in an unsustainable way. That's why at SSE Renewables we are looking towards the principles of circularity to support a sustainable business model.

"As a company we have already seen the direct commercial benefits from implementing circular solutions - from lower upfront costs to significantly reduced lead time for parts. And, as the new analysis from BVG Associates published today shows, there is massive potential from putting this approach on steroids - and create billions of pounds for the UK economy, support thousands of high-skilled local jobs, and prevent hundreds of thousands of tonnes of parts from being scrapped.

"Circularity is good for business, good for the economy, good for society and good for the planet too. Which is why SSE Renewables, together with our partners the University of Strathclyde and Renewable Parts, have created CWIC. We know there is no time to waste and we are determined to drive this agenda forward with our peers, suppliers, policy-makers and others across our sector to lead by example on a global platform."

Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said:
"The University plays a leading role in delivering world-leading research with a distinctive approach to collaboration across industry, public sector and academia. With the University-operated National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, NMIS, we are further able to help Scotland and the wider UK address the manufacturing and engineering challenges that will support the transition to net-zero, whilst also preparing businesses for digital transformation and adopting new technology. Collectively, Strathclyde and NMIS will leverage the knowledge and expertise gained from delivering several large-scale joint government-industry-academia programmes across sectors to maximise the pace and scale of impact from working with partners to support the nationally important wind sector."

James Barry, CEO of Renewables Parts said:
"The wind industry has led the UK's green energy transition so far, but as we look forwards, the development of a green and sustainable supply chain will mark a new and important chapter in the growth of wind power.
"Our collective commitment to net zero means parts reuse must become the norm, not the exception. By rigorously applying circular economy philosophy, we can develop the technology to routinely remanufacture used parts and reduce carbon intensity.

"In collaboration with SSE Renewables and the University of Strathclyde, Renewable Parts have developed parts remanufacture solutions that demonstrate this enormous potential. CWIC provides the opportunity for more, industry wide collaboration, creating enormous environmental and economic benefits for generations to come."

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