To achieve the goals of climate-neutrality by 2050, renewable energy sources installations will have an explosive growth. Wind energy, in particular, will play a large role on supplying clean energy to the electrical grid. Nevertheless, this growth must be done in a sustainable manner and following the principles set out in the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials. Thus, clear and decisive actions will need to be taken now to assure that the future wind farms are sustainable and circular, while also dealing with current wind farms and the recycling of their components, once they reach the end of their lifetime. The nature of this challenge involves different kinds of activities.
The first activity is on the development of large-scale industrial demonstration of composite material recycling technologies to increase the circularity of wind technology. This demonstration will focus on flexible approaches for composite recycling, and on the development of a knowledge hub involving other composite-heavy sectors, in order to share best practices and to identify common challenges.
Another activity is on the development of alternative solutions to replace/substitute critical raw materials. Further constraints linked to the availability of rare earths elements used in the wind sector, in particular for permanent magnets, are also relevant in this context.
The project results are expected to contribute to the promotion of the ‘circularity by design’ approach in the wind energy sector, and to support the adoption of life cycle assessment tools, demonstrating reduced carbon footprint on the wind turbine value chain.
The proposal is expected to address one of the following activity areas:
- On the development of large-scale industrial demonstration of composite material recycling technologies to increase the circularity of wind technology, proposals are expected to demonstrate recycling technologies at large-scale in an operating environment. The proposed solution will be a flexible production line, able to deal with a large amount of material (including, for example, coatings, paints, etc.) and applicable to several manufacturers and possibly to other sectors. The proposed solution should also have a long-term plan, with a business plan, beyond the life of the project. The proposals will also build a knowledge hub within the sector and with other sectors to transfer information and to promote recycling in the renewable energy sector and ‘circularity by design’ as a solution.
- On the development of alternative solutions to replace/substitute critical raw materials, proposals need to develop and demonstrate, in a relevant or operational environment, solutions and their supply cycles, improving efficiency of sourcing processes and effectively replacing the constrained materials. The development of advanced ‘circular by design’ materials should also be considered. The solutions proposed should be in line with the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials and the Foresight Study on Critical Raw Materials for Strategic Technologies and Sectors in the EU. Finally, the proposals will indicate the effect that such proposed solutions have on promoting circularity and/or recyclability on wind energy, as well as their circularity potential, their financial feasibility, and their potential to be upscaled. Further, the proposals should address and support life cycle analysis as a tool to bring into evidence the environmental impact and resource efficiency of proposed solutions.
Independently of the activity tackled, the proposal has to include a clear go/no go moment ahead of entering the deployment phase. Before this go/no-go moment, the project will have to deliver the detailed engineering plans and all needed permits for the deployment of the project. In the case of the first activity, the project will also have to deliver a complete business and implementation plan. The proposal is expected to clearly demonstrate a proposed pathway to obtaining necessary permits for the demonstration actions and allow for appropriate timelines to achieve these. The proposal is expected to also demonstrate how it will get a financial close for the whole action. Independent experts will assess all deliverables and will advise for the go/no-go decision.
Synergies are possible with topic: HORIZON-CL4-2021-RESILIENCE-01-23: Novel recycling technologies for composite materials (RIA).
The selected projects are expected to contribute and participate to the activities of the project BRIDGE when relevant.
Specific Topic Conditions:
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 6-7 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.
Ocean sustainability and blue economyDigital AgendaArtificial Intelligence
COM(2020) 474 - Critical Raw Materials Resilience: Charting a Path towards greater Security and Sustainability
Critical Raw Materials for Strategic Technologies and Sectors in the EU - A Foresight Study
Financial close occurs when all the project and financing agreements have been signed and all the required conditions contained in them have been met. It enables funds to start flowing so that project implementation can actually start. It includes, but it is not limited to, permitting and planning approvals, outstanding technical design issues, remaining key project and financing documents, and funding approvals. More information can be found at: https://www.eib.org/epec/g2g/iii-procurement/32/323/index.htm