(Reporter) THOUSANDS OF NEW WIND TURBINES
ARE GOING UP TO MEET THE COUNTRY’S RENEWABLE ENERGY NEEDS. BUT WHAT HAPPENS IN A FEW DECADES WHEN THOSE
TURBINES REACH THE END OF THEIR WORKING LIVES? IT’S A BIG QUESTION THAT XCEL ENERGY FACES
TODAY. XCEL OPERATES THE PONNEQUIN WIND FARM ON THE
COLORADO-WYOMING BORDER. AND IT’S ONE OF THE FIRST WIND FARMS IN
THE U.S. THAT’S AGED OUT OF ITS USEFUL LIFE. (Mark Stutz) Wind farms, at the end of the
day, are equipment. And equipment wears out over time.By April 2017 our intention is to return
the site to original appearance. (Reporter) THESE 44 TURBINES ARE 20 YEARS
OLD. NEW WIND TECHNOLOGIES DWARF THE PONNEQUIN
WIND FARM…BOTH IN SIZE AND CAPACITY. (Reporter) PONNEQUIN’S SILENT GIANTS WILL
BE BROUGHT DOWN WITH A BANG. (MIKE) To take down a wind turbine, we would
prepare these for explosive demolition… (Reporter) MARCHESCHI IS A DEMOLITION CONTRACTOR. …We’d shoot them and they’d all get
laid down on the ground where we could come in with heavy excavators and sheers to size
them up.” (REPORTER) OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL DECADES… TENS OF THOUSANDS OF THESE GIANT STRUCTURES
WILL BE RETIRED. (MIKE) SO THE TRASH… WHICH IS GOING TO BE PLASTICS, FIBERGLASS,
THAT TYPE OF THING, WILL END UP GETTING LANDFILLED.” (REPORTER) THERE ARE EARLY EFFORTS BEING MADE
TO FIND NEW USES FOR THE GIANT BLADES. AT WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY, RESEARCHERS
ARE CUTTING UP AND GRINDING SPENT TURBINE BLADES. THEY’RE EXPERIMENTING WITH RECYCLING THE
FIBERGLASS COMPOSITE MATERIAL…TO MAKE DECKING MATERIALS AND FLOORING TILES. BUT THIS IS JUST RESEARCH, NOT INDUSTRY MAINSTREAM
BY ANY MEANS. SO, FOR THE 150 FOOT LONG PONNEQUIN TURBINE
BLADES, THEY WILL ALL LIKELY END UP HERE… IN A LANDFILL. AND IF WE DON’T SOLVE THE RE-USE AND RECYCLE
PUZZLE FOR THESE MASSIVE BLADES, TENS OF THOUSANDS MORE FACE THE SAME FATE IN COMING YEARS. FOR INSIDE ENERGY, THIS IS LEIGH PATTERSON.