Danish start-up Continuum looks set to build its first wind turbine recycling facility at the Port of Esbjerg after committing DKK 600 million (£70m) to the project.
Esbjerg-based offshore logistics firm NorSea Denmark said it will build and own the facility on its land in the nearby suburb of Måde, close to a motorway and port facilities.
In addition to the Danish facility, Continuum said it is also still exploring options for a potential recycling hub in Scotland.
Wind turbine recycling
Continuum is pioneering a world-first method of recycling wind turbine blades into composite building materials.
Its fully automated factories are designed to run on 100% green energy and are zero carbon emitting environments; meaning no emissions to air, no waste fluids to ground, and no carbon fuel combustion.
Developed by co-founder and chief technical officer Reinhard Kessing, the patented technology can process wind turbine blades up to 22 metres in length and 3.6 metres wide.
The resulting composite panels can be used in a range of construction applications.
Potential for Scotland facility
Continuum chief operating officer Martin Dronfield told Energy Voice in addition to Esbjerg the company is still considering a number of potential locations across Scotland and the UK.
“Continuum are delighted as a organisation to have signed a deal with NorSea to potentially move forward with a factory in Esbjerg,” Mr Dronfield said.
“As a young company having a strong partner like NorSea who are as enthusiastic as we are about solving the circularity challenge of End-of-Life Wind Blades is amazing and we cannot wait to get going.
“However for us its not a race to build the first factory, its about seeing our ambition for multiple factories coming to life and the UK remains a primary target for us.
“This is a global challenge not a local one and Scotland, and the ambition it has already shown in the wind energy sector, makes it a highly suitable location to build a blade recycling factory.”
The facility is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2025, and NorSea chief executive officer Jesper Høj-Hansen welcomed the investment.
“The new factory will be an important element in the green value chain, and it fits in very well with us as specialists in logistics for the energy sector,” Mr Høj-Hansen said.
“For us, it could be fantastic if we could expand our competencies to also include the decommissioning of offshore wind – for example, delivering an end-of-life offshore wind turbine blade directly from the offshore wind farm for recycling at Continuum.”
Forecast decom growth for wind sector
While the first facility looks set to be built in Denmark, the company has also discussed plans for further factories in Scotland and China and elsewhere in Europe to cater for the forecast growth of offshore wind.
Initially though, Mr Dronfield said Continuum will source blades primarily from the decommissioning of onshore wind farms, particularly in mainland Europe.
“Then from early 2030 to moving through to the middle of the next decade, increasingly we see offshore wind farms being decommissioned and increasingly we will source offshore wind blades from developers,” he told Energy Voice.
“And the reason we’re looking at ports for the location of the factory is for that very reason.
“So that we’re able to bring large wind turbine blades directly from offshore to the factory.”
Continuum received a £500,000 grant from the UK Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) in 2022, and Mr Dronfield said the grant had been a major boost.
“When we applied for the grant, we only had a factory in Esbjerg in mind, and that grant has helped us accelerate our plans in the UK,” he said.
“It’s been incredibly successful; we simply would not be here today had it not been for that OWGP grant.
“And the very fact that we are now in a race to build the first factory potentially in the UK and potentially in Scotland, is testament to that grant.”