Simply brilliant? Swiss startup puts solar panels in unexpected places

Company Turn2Sun, based in Neuchatel, Switzerland, was founded in 2022. Their innovative project, called Blade2Sun, utilizes used wind turbine blades as structures to mount photovoltaic panels. The concept is quite unique and promising.

The project underwent testing in extreme mountainous conditions

Turn2Sun explains that the load-bearing capacity of the blades allows for wide-span structures covering large areas with minimal land use. This enables the installation of large-scale solar fields with reduced impact on the ground beneath them. Turn2Sun collaborated with the federal department Armasuisse and conducted a pilot project in Graubünden, Swiss Alps, at an altitude of 2500 meters above sea level.

The prototype featured solar panels with a capacity of 16,430 watts, attached to 8.4-meter wind turbine blades. The alpine pilot project confirmed the feasibility of the Blade2Sun project even in extreme conditions. So, what is the reason behind such utilization? Currently, there are over 340,000 wind turbines installed worldwide. In Europe alone, approximately 25,000 wind power plants will reach the end of their service life in the next few years, as reported by Electrek server.

Captura de ecrã 2023-07-03, às 17.27.22

Photo by Turn2Sun

Wind turbine blades are difficult to recycle

While over 95% of wind turbine components can be recycled, blade recycling is challenging due to their composition of composite materials, mostly glass fibers. As a result, used blades are primarily incinerated in cement kilns or waste-to-energy plants. The exceptional durability and other physical properties of wind turbine blades make them suitable for further use, emphasized by Invest Western Switzerland, the official investment promotion agency for the western region of Switzerland, comprising the cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchatel, Geneva, and Valais.

So, what’s next for this creative utilization of old wind turbine blades?

Lionel Perret, co-founder of Turn2Sun, comments on the issue, saying, “Several global players have expressed interest in our solution. We are developing new partnerships to offer solutions in other countries, such as integrating larger wind turbine blades.”


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