Rules and regulations help shape our world. Behaviour and technologies that help shape the world to our liking will receive supportive policies such as subsidies. And behaviour and technologies that are not helping with this will receive discouraging policies such as bans.

You can best compare this to making a horse walk with a stick with a carrot attached to it. To help the animal move we have two options, we either dangle the carrot in front of him (supportive, to encourage him to walk by offering him a carrot), or we can tap him on the back with the stick (discouraging, to make him walk to not be tapped again). Both options might work, and both have their own pros and cons that you need to compare before taking the action.

The energy sector has also been shaped by many rules and regulations over the past years. There have been ample policies to support the roll-out of wind energy throughout Europe, with subsidies as most well-known option. On the other hand, the EU ETS system makes sure polluters of CO2 pay a price for these emissions, making them less attractive options for energy generation compared to CO2-neutral options.

Kickstarting the circular economy

The circular economy has many similarities with the wind energy sector. Both have proven effect on creating a better environment, and both have higher upfront costs than the current alternatives. This means that it’s also important to get the right rules and regulations in place to kickstart this. And might be the reason why we now see many policies under development.

Historically, the focus has been on most of all on recycling, but now both on a European level, as well as on the level of the nations, we see governments working on policies focussing on more than that. On new carrots and sticks to further support the transition towards a circular economy. From land-fill bans to tender criteria on the circular economy and from changes in the end-of-waste status to circular economy action plans. All to combine rules to make waste more expensive and supportive policy to make circular the new norm.

Insight and lessons learned

To get insight on what works within the circular economy and wind turbines, within T3.2 of EoLO-HUBs, an overview is being created of the relevant policies and regulations in ten different European countries. Each with its own ideas, successes and policies that might be less effective. The creation of the overview will take place during the first half of the project.

The lessons learned from the different countries will be brought together in the second half of the project. During this part the research will focus on finding out which rules and regulations work best and how other countries can adapt these policies to their local circumstances. With this, the outcome of this task will help further shape the European policy field and support the roll-out of more circular economy initiatives in the wind sector.

To learn more about the policy structure on wind turbine blades and composites in Europe, you can contact Erik van Diest ( or Colin Mackie (, and for more information on circular economy transitions in the wind industry you can check out our Transition Support Database.