What is the current situation?
Most of our current energy comes from greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuels, which will eventually run out. The current renewable infrastructure is heavily centralized, involving long powerlines which lose energy through transmission. It also increases the population's dependence on main energy providers. Small and micro wind turbines fix these problems. They let their users receive decentralized energy, reducing their dependence on pollutive energy providers.
Unfortunately, small-scale wind turbines create end-of-life waste, which is unsustainable in a world with limited resources. However, this waste can be recycled and remanufactured into other materials, such as park benches or even new wind turbines. This would reduce the turbines' end-of-life waste. The EET solution aims to create small scale wind turbines that follow this idea.
What is the EET's Solution?
The EET aims to remodel existing small scale wind turbines to make their parts recyclable and decrease their parts' failure rates so as to increase their efficiency. This would also decrease the amount of end-of-life waste created by these turbines, as higher efficiency means less parts being thrown out.
After research, the EET concluded that creating a circular economy-adhering small scale wind turbine was out of the scope of the class. Instead, the EET worked on making these turbines more market-friendly. The team decided that the best solution would be to recycle and reuse spare parts, such as the benches in Figure 1, which are made from recycle wind turbine blades. Additional solutions include increasing collaboration within the manufacturers, collecting more data on small scale wind turbines, renting out wind turbines, and using local retailers to help sell the product.
The EET was successful in finding out how to get more consumers to purchase wind turbines and in developing more research on these turbines. This information can be used to better the turbines' economic and technological viability.
This project addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 of increasing the amount of affordable and clean energy available worldwide (Figure 2). By bettering the marketability of and providing more research on small scale wind turbines, the EET will help increase the global share of affordable clean energy.