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Successful Seminar on Sustainable Composite Materials for Wind Turbine Blades

9 September 2021

Bristol Composites Institute and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult) hosted a virtual research seminar on Sustainable Composite Materials for Wind Turbine Blades on 6 September 2021. The event was a success, with 200 attendees across six continents.

The Wind Blade Research Hub is a research partnership between the University of Bristol and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult) focusing on research that can enable technically efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective wind turbine blades.

The wind industry has grown at an unprecedented pace striving to deliver affordable green energy. To help tackle climate change, the industry is expected to continue on this exponential trajectory.

The seminar aimed to bring together current industry best practices and evaluation techniques as well as innovative research which is seeking to improve the sustainability of wind turbine blades.

The presentations covered the two main sustainability challenges related to wind energy: what to do with the significant number of wind turbines blades about to reach the end of their life; and how can the sustainability of the new turbines be improved to minimise the potential negative impacts from the growth of the sector?

The conference began with a welcome and introductions from Professor Paul Weaver from the Bristol Composites Institute and Dr Steve Wyatt1 from the ORE Catapult. The introductions were followed by utility and OEM perspectives, as Dr Mie Elholm Birkbak2 from Vestas Wind Systems talked about the CeTeC project, and Harald Stecher3 from Siemens Gamesa gave a presentation on the SGRE Wind Blades and Sustainability.

During the two technical sessions, pioneering research on alternative materials, manufacturing, and recycling was presented. The first technical session was chaired by Professor Paul Weaver, with presentations by Professor Steve Eichhorn4 (Bristol Composites Institute), Dr Maurice Collins5 (University of Limerick), and Dr Dimitrios Mamalis6 (ORE Catapult). The second technical session was chaired by Dr Mark Forrest (ORE Catapult), with presentations by Jenny Banks7 (NCC), Dr Darshil Shah8 (University of Cambridge), Professor Ian Hamerton9 (Bristol Composites Institute), and Tomas Flanagan10 (EIRE Composites).

The webinar ended with a panel discussion, chaired by Professor Steve Eichhorn. The panellists Lorna Bennet (ORE Catapult), Dr Pierre Stephan (EDF), and Dr Mie Elholm Birkbak (Vestas) drew together the challenges and the solutions, and delegates had an opportunity to ask questions from them.

The conclusion was that collaboration will be the key to success, as no single sector or individual company will be able to implement the changes required. While the challenge is big, with the scale and urgency increasing, it is surmountable. There are many promising solutions ready to be tested by an industry that is committed to a sustainable future.

Professor Paul Weaver from Bristol Composites Institute said: "I am now more optimistic for a more sustainable clean energy supply that meets our future needs.

There was excellent discussion stimulated by delegates and high levels of engagement and passion shown by leaders from industry, government organisations, and academia to develop more sustainable composite materials for use in wind turbines that can also be recycled effectively at end of life."

Dr Steve Wyatt from ORE Catapult added: "It was fantastic to see experts from all over the world take part in our Wind Blade Research Hub seminar on more sustainable composites. This area is becoming a real priority for offshore wind, a sector that is forecast to quadruple in the next decade.

We must now take the transformational research and ideas covered in the seminar and develop them at pace. I would like to personally thank everyone for taking part in such a great event."

You can watch the recording of the presentations on YouTube. The presentation slides are available for download below this article.

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Further information


  1. Dr Steve Wyatt (ORE Catapult) – Introduction (PDF, 1,139kB)
  2. Dr Mie Elholm Birkbak (Vestas) – CeTeC Project (PDF, 1,478kB)
  3. Harald Stecher (Siemens Gamesa) – SGRE Wind Blades and Sustainability (PDF, 3,497kB)
  4. Professor Steve Eichhorn (Bristol Composites Institute) –  From Micro to Nano and Back Again (PDF, 7,697kB)
  5. Dr Maurice Collins (University of Limerick) – Development of Lignin Fibres (PDF, 7,707kB)
  6. Dr Dimitrios Mamalis (ORE Catapult) – Alternative Hybrid Composites (PDF, 1,719kB)
  7. Jenny Banks (National Composites Centre) – SusWIND (PDF, 5,486kB)
  8. Dr Darshil Shah (University of Cambridge) – Designing Biocomposite Blades (PDF, 5,458kB)
  9. Professor Ian Hamerton (Bristol Composites Institute) – Improving Lifetime Prediction (PDF, 1,203kB)
  10. Tomas Flanagan (EIRE composites) – Manufacture and Testing of Large Composite Structures (PDF, 2,297kB)

Watch the video recording on the Institute's YouTube channel.

Find out more about the Wind Blade Research Hub.

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