CISTE project funded


CISTE project funded


CISTE project funded



CISTE, Circularidad y Sostenibilidad de Tecnologías Eólicas project has been funded by the Guipuzkoa Science, Technology and Innovation Network Program, within the financial aid call of the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council.


Project summary

The deployment of clean and renewable energy sources is crucial to support a truly circular and sustainable economy. Otherwise, production and consumption systems will continue to be linear, disregarding efficiency improvements in resource use, as the system will still depend on fossil fuels with high environmental impact.

In the Basque Country, this is particularly relevant because the region has a high dependency (>90%) on energy produced in other regions, where natural gas and oil account for 80% of the total Basque energy demand. This represents a risk of supply and price volatility, which can affect energy security and regional competitiveness. This is also one of the major reasons why the energy sector in the Basque Country determines 35% (6,7 Mt) of the total regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Consequently, the Basque Country is actively encouraging the deployment of a low carbon energy model, where renewable energy technologies play a crucial role to achieve the regional energy and climate targets, as well as the goals defined in the Basque Smart Specialization Strategy.

According to the Basque Energy Strategy 2030, the share of renewable energy in the energy mix will increase by 126% in 2030, where wind power technologies are expected to be the renewable energy source that would increase the most over this decade (783 MW = +390% compared to 2020).

However, although the deployment of wind power energies play a key role in the decarbonisation of the electricity mix, this is not enough by itself to minimize GHGs and contribute to a truly circular and sustainable development.

The Basque Country has 160 wind turbines installed during the period from 1999 to 2006. Considering a 20-year lifespan as average, from 2020 to 2030 these turbines will reach the end of their service life and they would need to be managed properly. Although several components are recyclable, such as the tower, control panels and the generator, other components, such as the concrete base are usually sent to landfill. Likewise, many materials are recycled in open-loop cycles to produce lower quality materials. On the other hand, today´s wind blades recycling processes are complex due to their content on composites.


Another relevant aspect to consider is material criticality. For instance, three of the eight critical materials with highest risk for the global value chain (Neodium, Dysposium y Praseodymium) are used in the production of the wind generators. These minerals are of strategic importance for the European Union and the Basque Country because these regions do not have rare earth mineral deposits and they depend on global value chains. This represents a risk for the future development of wind power value chains.

Accordingly, the deployment and management of wind power technologies, must be accompanied by the smart design of technologies, business models and value chains, where the application of circular economy principles is essential to ensure the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the system.

The main goal of this project is to analyse the correlation between the circularity and sustainability of wind technologies, business models and value chains in the Basque Country. The two main research questions to be responded are: i) to what extend the circularity of the system can be increased? and ii) how such increment in the system circularity can affect (positively and/or negatively) the environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The results of this project will be useful to drive future decision-making processes at the technological and non-technological levels from an industrial (e.g. design of materials, technologies, services, business models and new value chains), policy (e.g. design of new policies, strategies and action plans), socio-economic (e.g. new knowledge and market opportunities) and environmental levels (e.g. resource and environmental savings).

Project contact: Joan Manuel F. Mendoza (