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  • Dear Readers!

    Whilst the energy transition “experiment” continues unabated in Germany and the large energy providers find themselves in a difficult situation as they try to find out exactly what their main business now is, REMONDIS – as a consumer – has been taking action and has come up with some innovative solutions to tackle the energy problem. We have, for example, succeeded in considerably reducing energy consumption at our dismantling centre for waste electrical and electronic equipment at the Lippe Plant in Lünen by introducing a new energy management system. Whereas, in the past, it had only been possible to see how much energy the plant was consuming as a whole, a new software system – developed by the company itself – now enables the ­consumption of each individual piece of equipment and each individual light to be recorded. One of the responses to the results generated by this new system was to exchange all the lights in the plant with state-of-the-art LEDs. This has led to more light with fewer carbon emissions and lower costs and this idea is catching on across the whole of the group. This is what we at REMONDIS believe the energy transition to be.

    REMONDIS continues to enjoy healthy growth and not only in its home region of North Rhine-Westphalia. Our family-owned company has been expanding in the countries which are on its list of “core regions”. These include, for example, neighbouring countries such as Poland to the east and the Netherlands to the west. The Dutch recycling firm, van ­Gansewinkel, recently sold its Polish operations to ­REMONDIS. Furthermore, REMONDIS acquired the business locations and activities of the Becker Group in the south of Poland. Thanks to these latest transactions, we have succeeded in expanding our range of services for our Polish customers and strengthening our position on the Polish market – one of the company’s so-called core markets. At the time of going to press, we also received the good news that our Dutch subsidiary has taken over the Dusseldorp Group. This will considerably grow REMONDIS Nederland’s operations in the Dutch recycling sector.

    According to the Federal Office for National Statistics, the total debt of the local and district authorities in Germany lay at around 140 billion euros at the end of 2014 – and this figure is likely to rise. Some councils, however, are of the opinion that they can solve this problem by remunicipalising services that, they believe, fall into the category of “vital public services”. To be able to do this though they must spend large sums of money on setting up the necessary infrastructure – an infrastructure that private sector firms already have in place and which they could offer far more cost-effectively. We know from experience that the best solution is to work together as partners, as can be seen in the City of Freiburg in the Breisgau region. The PPP model continues to be a practicable solution that unites the two worlds in the best possible way and brings the most benefits for the regional economy and the local inhabitants.

    The arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Germany to escape from their war-torn homelands will mean greater challenges as well as some great opportunities for our ­country and local authorities. Let us work together in a spirit of optimism and confidence to create a better future for ­everyone living in our country. REMONDIS is there as always to help and advise its municipal partners. 

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

Useful life of 20 to 25 years

Wind turbines, too, eventually reach a point when they are no longer fit for purpose. Earlier versions are gradually being decommissioned and replaced with larger, more efficient models. Some of these older wind turbines are being sold off on the international second-hand market. More and more, however, are having to be recycled as they have been operating for over 20 years and are reaching the end of their useful life.

REMONDIS Olpe GmbH is a specialist in this field

For years now, REMONDIS has been looking at ways of recycling obsolete wind turbines. One of the pioneers in this sector is REMONDIS Olpe GmbH. Collaborating closely with other REMONDIS companies, it offers reliable solutions that cover all aspects of this business – including the complex task of recycling the blades.

Giant structures made of composite materials

  • As with boats, the blades of a wind turbine are made of glass-fibre reinforced plastic, i.e. glass-fibre mats coated and held together by resin. A layer of wood may also be added to the smaller models. The length of the blade on the older onshore wind turbines is normally up to 45 metres long and weighs between 9 and 12 tonnes. The blades found in the offshore wind farms are much larger and much heavier – measuring up to 115 metres in length and weighing around 40 tonnes.

    Dealing with the size of the blades and the materials used to make them are, therefore, the two main challenges that recycling companies have to face. The first task is to cut up the blades into smaller pieces (approx. 13 metres in length) on site where the wind turbine was located so that they can be transported by truck to the recycling facility.

    • Recycling wind turbine blades: not only their size poses a challenge

A substitute for primary raw materials

REMONDIS operates three locations in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (including Olpe) that collect and repack the blade sections into larger batches, each weighing around 600 tonnes. These are then sent to REMONDIS’ subsidiary, TSR. A metal recycling specialist, TSR operates high performance shredders which are able to shred the blades in just one single step so they can be conveyed pneumatically.

As yet, little attention has been paid to the recycling of wind turbines – one of the challenges resulting from the energy transition.

This reusable material is bought by cement works as all the components of the shredded blades are perfect for their business. Large amounts of energy are needed to produce cement and the wood and resin contained in the recycled material can be used as fuel. Moreover, the silicate in the glass fibre cancels out any deficits in the source materials, as the stone used by cement works has a low silicon content. If the blade pieces were not added here, then natural silicate would have to be bought in.

Onshore and offshore wind farms

Thanks to its high levels of expertise in this field, REMONDIS is also able to completely dismantle wind turbines. The foundations, tower, nacelle and underground cables are professionally removed and all materials generated by this process, for example concrete, steel and electronic components, recycled. This stage also involves a number of different REMONDIS companies collaborating with each other, such as REMEX, the group’s specialist for processing mineral aggregate.

The cooperation work with Rhenus Logistics also creates a number of advantages here. Rhenus, like REMONDIS, ­belongs to the RETHMANN Group and offers a range of ­logistics services which also cover offshore operations. Their branches in Bremen, Cuxhaven and Emden, for ­example, serve wind farms in the German Bight in the North Sea.

A huge increase in volumes expected

Industry experts believe that there will be a rapid increase in the number of wind turbines needing to be recycled in the future. They predict that over 9,000 tonnes of turbine blades will need to be recycled in Germany in 2016 and that this figure will have almost doubled to around 16,000 tonnes by 2021. The growing interest in recycling wind turbines can already be seen today: the volumes that REMONDIS is expecting to recycle this year are far greater than those of the previous years.

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