Academia and industry join forces to accelerate net zero through circular onshore wind industry
The University of Strathclyde, the operator of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, SSE Renewables and Renewable Parts Limited (RPL) have announced a new partnership in support of developing a circular and sustainable wind sector in the UK.
While the majority of minor components in a wind turbine can be reused, remanufactured or refurbished, most replacement parts are still sourced new, increasing the carbon footprint of the industry.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the organisations outlines how they will explore a number of areas together, including securing a world-leading UK-wind circular economy sector deal and developing a strategy to reduce waste from wind farms at the end of their life.
The partnership plans to develop sustainable supply chains through research and innovation with a range of partners, with the aim of establishing Scotland as the advanced research and development centre for wind turbine component remanufacture within the UK.
This will support the reduction of carbon emissions of renewable energy assets, as well as support supply chain resilience and generate new, skilled jobs for the UK.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said:
This joint agreement builds on our successful long standing collaborations with both SSE Renewables and RPL and links our technical expertise to the low carbon energy sector.
“Strathclyde’s role as the leading Research and Skills partner will underpin the growth and development of the sector, de-risking innovation and positioning the University and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland as leading institutions for sustainability in designing, manufacturing and operating wind turbines, as well as in education and skills development across the sector.
Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, said:
This MoU sends an important message that SSE Renewables is serious about making sure renewable energy is truly sustainable. For SSE Renewables, sustainability is right at the core of our business strategy.
“We’ve recently appointed a new Head of Sustainability to our executive team, and we’re taking action to power sustainable change across our development and operational activities while championing a fair and just transition to net zero.
"Delivering on the ambition of this new partnership with the University of Strathclyde and Renewable Parts to develop sustainable supply chains and a circular economy in the UK wind sector is an significant step forward on our journey to net zero. This partnership will also help create highly-skilled, high-quality jobs and value for people across Scotland and the UK too.
James Barry, Chief Executive of Renewable Parts Ltd, said:
This agreement marks a highly signficant step in cooperation between our organisations, accelarating the deployment of circular economy solutions into operational service.
“Decarbonsation of the supply chain through the application of parts remanufacture presents one of the greatest oppportunities to increase sustainability and reduce environmental impact.
“This coinvestment in new technology will not only enhance operational performance, but will create many new, high skilled jobs in the renewables sector within the UK economy.
Other companies and organisations working in this space are encouraged to join the partnership. Interested parties can get in touch by contacting CIRCULARWIND@strath.ac.uk.
These activities are complementary to the wider programmes of activity that SSE and RPL are involved with across the University, such as the Technology & Innovation Centre Scottish Low Carbon Power and Energy Partnership in which SSE is a partner. RPL and Strathclyde have a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, funded by UKRI through Innovate UK, to develop sustainable solutions for decommissioned wind turbines.