The Wind Energy Scam: Recycling False Promises and Mountains of Waste

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by Buck Throckmorton

There is a lot of money being thrown at those promising to recycle spent “green energy” hardware that isn’t actually recyclable. The problem is that once the money is gone, the unrecycled waste continues to pile up.

The wind energy scam has been going on long enough now that decommissioned wind turbine blades are piling up by the thousands. Because recycling has become a near-religious virtue, and because the amount of waste is so staggering, there is a desperation to do something with the mountain of blades other than bury them.

Sweetwater, Texas has become a graveyard for thousands of these blades, filling many acres. Texas Monthly has been following the recycling scam perpetrated by a company which claimed it had a revolutionary technology to recycle the blades.

Thousands of Old Wind Turbine Blades Pile Up in West Texas [Texas Monthly – 8/24/2023]

The blades were brought here by Global Fiberglass Solutions, a company based in Washington State that announced in 2017 its intention to recycle blades from wind farms across the region. Instead of ending up in landfills, they would be ground up into a reusable material that could be turned into pallets, railroad ties, or flooring panels. Global Fiberglass is one of a few companies attempting to develop a viable business from recycling blades.

Global Fiberglass Solutions actually hit on a clever business model for this era – getting paid by those who want to claim they are engaged in the green act of “recycling.” Of course, there was the ethical problem that Global Fiberglass didn’t actually recycle the blades. But they got paid handsomely to haul the blades away with the promise of recycling them. Those paying Global Fiberglass could virtuously claim to have “recycled” their spent turbine blades. Unfortunately for residents of Sweetwater, the blades were simply dumped and abandoned in their town.

Some paid Global Fiberglass to remove the older blades and haul them away. The company set up shop in an empty industrial facility in Sweetwater that was once an aluminum recycling plant, but Don Lilly, the managing director of Global Fiberglass, told me that only a handful of blades have ever been ground up there. He said the company was close to ramping up and would soon mill the blades into pieces the size of coarse sand. “The blade material is sold,” he said, “but I can’t go into that part yet.”

“Close to ramping up…” How many suckers have heard that line as they “invest” in a revolutionary new technology?

Sweetwater has heard such pledges before. The county declared the stockpile a public nuisance a year ago.

It wasn’t just Sweetwater finding itself suckered into providing a dump for Global Fiberglass. The city of Newton, Iowa had a similar problem, ultimately determining that the “recycling operation” it had recruited to town was actually just an unpermitted dump.

Frank Liebl, executive director of the Newton Development Corporation, testified at a state hearing that the initial excitement in 2017 of recruiting a blade-recycling company soon soured. In the intervening years, he asked Global Fiberglass many times when it would begin its recycling. He always got “the same answer: ‘Soon,’ ” he said.

It is hardly surprising that a major corporation like GE got swindled by Global Fiberglass. GE needed to brag about recycling their wind turbines, so they paid Global Fiberglass to haul them away for that purpose. They obviously weren’t recycled.

Update, 9/25/2023: General Electric filed a lawsuit last week claiming that Global Fiberglass Solutions has failed to fulfill its promise to recycle thousands of blades. GE says it paid the company $16.9 million to recycle about five thousand wind turbine blades, but that GFS instead stockpiled them at facilities in Sweetwater and Iowa. “Only after GFS took millions of dollars from GE, did GFS all but shut down its operations without recycling the Blades,” reads the complaint, filed in U.S. district court in New York.

The Global Fiberglass scam predictably began with a promoter and his start-up company promising revolutionary green new technology. The founder has a degree in sociology, not anything scientific. Go figure. From a hagiographic newspaper story in Washington from 2015:

“Bothell Business Owner Creates New Industry for Recycling Fiberglass”

By all accounts Don Lilly, owner and mastermind behind Global Fiberglass Solutions, doesn’t fit the traditional mold of the industrial business owner. Despite owning a quickly-growing fiberglass recycling business, Lilly says he studied sociology while attending the University of Nebraska. It’s only been within the last half-decade the 50-year-old Bothell resident has taught himself chemistry and engineering. “I didn’t start out looking to be a decommissioning expert in wind turbine blades,” he said with a laugh…

In a follow-up piece at Texas Monthly from just a few days ago, it is reported that Newton, Iowa has successfully found a different start-up company to “recycle” its massive pile of wind turbine blades.

Iowa Is Cleaning Up Its Massive Pile of Wind Turbine Blades. Why Can’t Texas? [Texas Monthly 5/08/2024]

This finding has paved the way for a Tennessee company called Carbon Rivers to begin the lengthy process of recycling about one thousand blades into material to make, among other items, composite decking boards, ceiling tiles, and injection-molded automobile cupholders.“We can entirely and completely reuse a wind turbine blade,” said David Morgan, the chief strategy officer of Carbon Rivers. “You have glass fiber and carbon fiber composite and resin and other constituent parts like wood and foam. All that can be recovered.” When I asked him what he saw when he looked at photographs of the blades in Sweetwater, he said, “I see a new boat, a new car, a new blade. There is no longer any need whatsoever to landfill composites.”

Sure.

While I would certainly like to see Carbon Rivers make the growing mountain of blades go away, I am highly skeptical. They have an almost endless supply of raw materials that they will be paid to take, yet they are receiving taxpayer grants rather than being self-sufficient with revenue from the sale of recycled products.

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Mother Nature just shows why she don’t approve of Wind and Solar shows that Wind and Solar are Not Environmentally Friendly

gigantic boondoggle for kickbacks.

This is why so many people love the “green agenda”; it gets billions and billons of dollars that are thrown around without oversight and even when the money is stolen (Solar One, Solyndra, Batteries 1 2 3, etc) no one is EVER prosecuted. I can’t imagine why Texas would ever turn blue; Democrats only use it for votes and as a dumping ground. If it’s not industrial waste or these useless blades, it’s illegal immigrants. Anything they don’t want around THEM, they just dump in Texas. That’s what Democrats think of us.

You know what one of the reasons for the degradation of the blades is? BIRD STRIKES.