KETV OMAHA: Old turbine blades near Sidney, Nebraska to be repurposed into products
'We will not participate in the landfilling of blades' recycling firm says.
By Andrew Ozaki
Originally published on ketv.com
This is what RiverCap Ventures, a Cleveland-based company plans for 200 old wind turbine blades stored near Sidney, Nebraska and thousands of others around the country.
Watch news coverage from ABC-affiliate KETV Omaha
"We'll be repurposing those blades using their exact same structure, their strength and shape to create products," RiverCap Ventures Vice-President of Business Development Brian Donahue said.
He said they have partnered with another firm, Canvus to begin production in August.
"We did not anticipate how long it would take to come full circle to our solution and we thought it would be much shorter which is why we put them there," Donahue said.
KETV Newswatch 7 first told you about the blades in February.
The blades have been sitting on the Nebraska site since the fall of 2020.
"Anytime you put a blade on the ground anywhere near a wind farm people get nervous and rightfully so," Donahue said.
What to do with worn-out blades has become a global problem.
In other areas, the blades have been buried landfills and stored in turbine graveyards.
Both the landowner of the Sidney property and RiverCap said that has never been an option.
"We will not participate in the landfilling of blades," Donahue said.
RiverCap has taken blades to be ground up and used in the production of cement.
But grinding fiberglass and other metals is hard on equipment.
Donahue said their new process just cuts the blades, repurposes them and adds a new finish.
"The maintenance of our equipment is significantly cheaper than grinding it for cement. That allows us to provide a cost advantage over the other solution," Donahue said. Each product has a QR code to download information about where the blade came from and how many homes it powered.
Brian Donahue, Vice President of Business Development, RiverCap Holdings
"We've spent millions of dollars on R&D and making sure that it's a viable output. And the reception from the industry so far is is overwhelmingly positive," Donahue said.
But State Sen. Tom Brewer is skeptical.
"I hope they are able to do that. But I don't believe at the rate that they're trying to increase the number of wind towers that that's going to be possible," Brewer said.
He said Nebraska currently has no regulations disposal of blades and he plans to introduce a bill next year.
"The idea that you can't bring those blades and bury them here in Nebraska," Brewer said.
Donahue said he hopes someday one of the products made by blades stored near Sidney will end up in that community.
And here's why they sat there for as long as they did, but look what they become and read the story all about it.)
"People were not that happy that 200 blades were sitting out in a field. And people were certainly concerned that those blades might go into a landfill. Not a chance. Not a chance at all. And here's why they sat there for as long as they did. But look what they become and read the story all about it," Donahue said.
Donahue said RiverCap plans on building two additional facilities next year.
He said one would be in Texas and the other could be in Nebraska or Missouri.
Each facility would be a $5 million to $10 million investment and employ about 25 to 40 jobs.
"We want to be a good employer from the standpoint of providing benefits and I think these will be very good jobs in the communities where we end up," Donahue said.