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Are used windmills the future of design?

Wiktor Bochenek
30 of January '23

One of the chief arguments of opponents of the use of renewable energy sources, in addition to the issue of energy storage, is the question of their disposal. Windmill wings not only produce energy, but bring the public debate to a head.

The road to reducing the carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere goes through convincing millions of skeptics. In the era of the "onshore windmill unblocking" debate, where the positive and negative aspects of windmills are discussed, the topic of their disposal is returning - recycling material from wind power is difficult when it comes back for reuse. This is not always necessary, because the material from the turbine wings can be used in a much more interesting way - as urban furniture.

Turbiny wykorzystano do stworzenia mebli miejskich

Turbines were used to create urban furniture

© Pannattoni

the road to recycled waste

The term upcycling, unfortunately, is not making as dizzying a career as recycling, although its importance to the closed-loop economy is equally important. Upcycling, is a form of waste processing that produces a higher value product. If we get a tile for our kitchen from plastic wrap, that's an example of upcycling. It's also usually associated with people who can afford to spend their weekends playing in backyard workshops, rather than mass use. In the case of wind turbines, however, it is possible to use them in quite interesting ways.

Why is this so important? First of all, from the scale of the problem, which will grow. Wind farms, whether on land or offshore, will be, in addition to a low-carbon energy source growing by about 18 GW of power per year, a source of another problem - waste production. According to calculations by Cambridge University, about fifteen thousand wind turbine blades will be phased out in the next five years. This will amount to as much as 43 million tons of waste worldwide in 2050. Now it's a matter of whether we look at this as a problem or an opportunity.

Takie wykorzystanie materiału daje możliwość upcyklingu

This use of material offers the possibility of upcycling

© Pannattoni

urban furniture

Solutions using material from windmills do not have to be sought in faraway regions, still exotic from the perspective of Poland's approach to the environment, such as Denmark, where a playground using turbine remnants was built already in 2009 (proj. Superuse Studios).

In 2023, new urban furniture created using material left over from wind power will also be built in Poland - there are already a dozen of them standing today. Urban furniture made from turbine wings was used by Pannattoni in cooperation with Anmet. Benches, deck chairs or swings will appear around the company's facilities - including in Krakow, Kalisz, Wroclaw, Walbrzych and Nadarzyn. At the end of the turbine, which on average saves about thirty-six thousand tons of co2 equivalent emissions, this one does not have to be buried, but turned into a useful piece of urban furniture.

At the crossroads of the exotic and the circuitous

The recycled wind turbine wings used by private companies are an excellent example of the use of the closed-loop economy. Of course, such urban furniture can serve as greenwashing, but it doesn't have to at all. It is worth looking at this from the perspective of the partisanship we get in contrast to some urban projects. In Krakow, there have been as many as two cases of purchasing very expensive benches, reaching several hundred thousand, which used often expensive and exotic materials.

Standing at the crossroads of exotic wood vs. the turbine used, it should be closer in our cities to use the latter - fitting in with the closed-loop economy described by Katie Raworth in "The Economy of the Bagel." Even if the final price would be similar, in this way we are part of abroader economic trend that can transform our cities and neighborhoods. It only remains to wish for clean energy and furniture like this.

Wybór pomiędzy turbiną a egzotycznym drewnem wydaje się wyborem jednostronnym

The choice between turbine and exotic wood seems like a one-sided choice

© Pannattoni

developed by Wiktor Bochenek

The vote has already been cast

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