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The circular economy has gained increasing prominence as a tool which presents solutions to global sustainable development challenges. By addressing root causes of waste and pollution, the circular economy aims at keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. It is defined as a regenerative system in which resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimised by slowing, closing, and narrowing material and energy loops. This can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling.[1]

Renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels and batteries are all key to combat climate change and contribute to the low-carbon energy future. However, they also rely on the production and use of composite and critical materials that have negative impacts on the environment and society during extraction and manufacturing. From a whole system perspective, it is important to optimise resource use of components and materials of renewable energy technologies. They should be designed for durability, reuse and remanufacturing, rather than committing them to sub-optimal waste management and energy recovery pathways.[2]

This webinar will look at the circularity of the clean energy transition from different angles: Challenges related to sourcing materials for renewable energy infrastructure, circularity in manufacturing processes and their durability and eventually disposal or reuse. These challenges will be exemplified by a closer look at wind turbines and batteries. Each session will start with presentations from three leading experts followed by a Q&A session.

Expected outcomes

The webinar will result in a summary report identifying the challenges and opportunities of addressing the circular economy and will present perspectives for R&D planners and strategists. In addition, an executive summary will be presented to CERT.

[1] Greissdoerfer et al, 2020, The Circular Economy – A new sustainability paradigm? Journal of Cleaner Production, Vaol. 143, 2017, p.757-768

[2] Jensen, P.D. et al, Highlighting the need to embed circular economy in low carbon infrastructure decommissioning: The case of offshore wind. Journal of Sustainable Production and Consumption, 24 (2020), 266-280.