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Using life cycle assessment to compare wind energy infrastructure

Author(s): B. Cleary, A. Duffy and A. O’ Connor
Paper category: symposium
Book title: International Symposium on Life Cycle Assessment and Construction – Civil engineering and buildings
Editor(s): A. Ventura and C. de la Roche
Print ISBN: 978-2-35158-127-8
e-ISBN: 978-2-35158-128-5
Publisher: RILEM Publications SARL
Pages: 135 – 143 (+ 1 page of appendixes)
Total Pages: 10
Language: English

Abstract: Given the need to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to the production of electricity, countries worldwide are trying to develop and implement different energy saving strategies and technologies to mitigate global warming. A core part of achieving this is the development and implementation of renewable energy technologies such as wind.
This has resulted in the development and innovation of wind turbines with output ranges of 10-15MW likely to be deployed by 2020. This increased output has a knock on effect on the growth of rotor diameters and tower heights requiring the wind turbine system to be assessed from an economic, environmental and structural performance viewpoint. This has led to the proposal of using concrete as an alternative to the current preference of steel for wind turbine towers due to a number of limiting issues.
Thus, the main focus of this paper is to investigate and compare the life cycle emissions (LCE) of GHG of concrete relative to steel as a tower solution in order to identify a solution for both onshore and offshore facilities. The main findings indicated that the LCE for a wind turbine with a concrete tower range between 4-9% lower than its equivalent steel solution over a 40 year life cycle.

Keywords: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), wind energy, concrete wind turbine towers, steel wind turbine towers, wind turbines

Online publication: 2012
Publication Type: full_text
Public price (Euros): 0.00

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