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Living on a wind turbine

25 April 2024

Wind turbines at the end of their technical lifespan: what to do with them? Cepezed, Superuse Studios, Studio Carbon, and Interactivist joined forces with Vattenfall to promote circularity in wind energy. Because the materials used for renewable energy generate a supply at the end of their lifespan that can be reused.

During Dutch Design Week 2023, Vattenfall launched the What if Lab: Upcycled Turbines. In the months that followed, the four selected design studios worked together with Vattenfall to promote circularity in dismantling wind turbines. 

Cepezed, Superuse Studios, Studio Carbon, and Interactivist immersed themselves in the world of wind turbines. They analysed the properties of various components and were able to exchange ideas with thought leaders, industry experts, researchers, and other designers. All this to find answers to the question: how can you efficiently and effectively reuse the range of parts of a wind turbine?

cepezed: Floating Platforms

Most wind turbine materials can be recycled, but the blades pose a challenge because they are strongly optimised in terms of material and shape. Blades are designed to be robust, strong, and large.

Cepezed’s proposal is to use the blades as intact as possible and give them a second life. Cepezed achieves this by using the optimised weight and hollow shape as buoyancy bodies. From this perspective, they can design floating platforms that can fulfil various functions. These new floating areas can provide answers to various problems in the world, such as housing shortages and rising sea levels.

© Superuse Studios

Superuse Studios/Blade–made: Nestle

Superuse Studios introduces Nestle. Nestle is the transformation of a Vestas V80 Nacelle into a Tiny House of ±35m2 that fully complies with Dutch building regulations. By demonstrating this reuse, Superuse Studios could enable all 10,000+ Nacelles of this type to have a useful second life. For the interior, Superuse Studios has designed various basic configurations. Nestle could thus be used as a standalone office, exhibition space, addition to a home, or as a holiday accommodation along the beach, in the forest, or at a holiday park. Preferably as close as possible to the old wind turbine.

© Interactivist

Interactivist: Turbine Times

What if wind turbines could tell us about the cycles of their lives? What if they were more than a source of green energy, and communicated with us to share stories through the rhythms of nature?

Together with Vattenfall, Interactivist wanted to promote these milestones of the energy transition as a meaningful presence in our lives and embed them in our cultural and emotional landscape. The Turbine Times tells about the cycles of their lives through the language of data paintings, turning them into living, breathing entities that communicate, resonate, and connect with us. Within the synergy between sustainability and society, decommissioning is as much about preserving economic value as it is about preserving emotional value.

Studio Carbon: Vision 2050

Studio Carbon explored questions about the decommissioning of turbines and its broader implications in the energy ecosystem. This research led them to a crucial insight: to understand the end of a turbine, we must reconsider the entire energy sector. Their solution consisted of three main components:

  1. System Map: Studio Carbon meticulously mapped the energy sector, identifying unique opportunities for circular innovation.
  2. Vision 2050: An experiential, feasible, and holistic vision for 2050. They envision the transformation of stand-alone wind farms into “Wind Forests,” serving as protectors of society and ecology.
  3. Backcasting Toolkit: By introducing a groundbreaking toolkit, they enabled Vattenfall stakeholders to develop step-by-step goals together to realise the vision for 2050.

What now?

The What if Lab may be over, but that’s not the end! Efforts are now underway to explore possible further development of the concepts. One thing we know for sure: during Dutch Design Week 2024, the concepts will take on physical form.