Epoxies as enablers of the Green Energy Transition in Europe
Epoxies are a key enabler of Europe’s transition towards green energy. They are integral to the energy sector and are used as composites and coatings in the production, transformation, and distribution of various types of renewable and non-renewable energies. Epoxies are crucial to wind, solar and hydropower sectors which are at the heart of Europe’s clean energy transition. Not surprisingly, the energy sector is the second largest segment of epoxy applications in Europe, accounting for an estimated 81,000 tonnes of epoxy resins annually.
Wind energy production is a significant contributor to EU’s goal of getting 32% of its total energy from renewable sources by 2030. Materials created with epoxy resins are an indispensable component in offshore, wind energy farms due to their light weight, durability, low brittleness, and high mechanical strength. Epoxies are used as as resin matrix materials for windmill rotor blades and steel and concrete towers are often coated with epoxy resin-based anti-corrosion base coatings to protect the structure from environmental corrosion such as exposure to sea water. Epoxies improve the strength-to-weight ratio of turbines’ structure, enabling the manufacture of longer blades, increasing energy output, and consequently enhance the potential for future European energy exports.
Epoxy mortar’s non-permeability, adhesive strength, anti-erosive nature, and non-abrasiveness makes them a preferred choice for use in hydropower plants to protect the concrete surfaces from low temperatures and lashing water flow.
Solar and wind generators are often installed in remote and sometimes offshore areas. Minimising the loss of energy during transmission over long distances is crucial to ensure the electricity grid expands rapidly and optimally ensuring the power reaches all end users. Using epoxy composites* reduces the weight of the cables and increase the power transmission capacity by 30% compared to the same weight of steel core cables. Epoxies also protect the solar panels from wide temperature variances and intense environmental conditions such as those caused by UV radiation, bitter cold, heavy rain, hail, storms, and turbulent winds increasing their life span and making them more durable.
Epoxy resins are also used to prolong the service life and improve the reliability of the sensors and measuring devices that are often installed in smart grid systems.
*Composite cored electric power transmission cables, more details here.