Life cycle energy and greenhouse emissions analysis of wind turbines and the effect of size on energy yield

Journal Article

Title: Life cycle energy and greenhouse emissions analysis of wind turbines and the effect of size on energy yield
Authors: Crawford, R.
Publication Date:
December 01, 2009
Journal: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume: 13
Issue: 9
Pages: 2653-2660
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd.

Document Access

Website: External Link

Citation

Crawford, R. (2009). Life cycle energy and greenhouse emissions analysis of wind turbines and the effect of size on energy yield. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13(9), 2653-2660.
Abstract: 

Wind turbines, used to generate renewable energy, are typically considered to take only a number of months to produce as much energy as is required in their manufacture and operation. With a life expectancy of upwards of 20 years, the energy produced by wind turbines over their life can be many times greater than that embodied in their production. Many previous life cycle energy studies of wind turbines are based on methods of assessment now known to be incomplete. These studies may underestimate the energy embodied in wind turbines by more than 50%, potentially overestimating the energy yield of those systems and possibly affecting the comparison of energy generation options. With the increasing trend towards larger scale wind turbines, comes a respective increase in the energy required for their manufacture. It is important to consider whether or not these increases in wind turbine size, and thus embodied energy, can be adequately justified by equivalent increases in the energy yield of such systems. This paper presents the results of a life cycle energy and greenhouse emissions analysis of two wind turbines and considers the effect of wind turbine size on energy yield. The issue of incompleteness associated with many past life cycle energy studies is also addressed. Energy yield ratios of 21 and 23 were found for a small and large scale wind turbine, respectively. The embodied energy component was found to be more significant than in previous studies, emphasised here due to the innovative use of a hybrid embodied energy analysis approach. The life cycle energy requirements were shown to be offset by the energy produced within the first 12 months of operation. The size of wind turbines appears to not be an important factor in optimising their life cycle energy performance.

 

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