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Energy, emissions and environmental impact analysis of wind turbine using life cycle assessment technique

Uddin, Md. Shazib, Kumar, S.
Journal of cleaner production 2014 v.69 pp. 153-164
aluminum, carbon dioxide, computer software, developing countries, developmental stages, electricity, embodied energy, emissions factor, environmental impact, fiberglass, greenhouse gas emissions, manufacturing, thermoplastics, wind power, wind turbines, Thailand
Wind turbine used for electricity generation is known as clean and renewable energy technology. The worldwide increasing trend of wind turbine installation present and future projection addressing the issue of energy required for manufacture and environmental impact due to energy consumption. The life cycle energy and environmental impact of wind turbine has been studied in many literature, but some studies are based on average data, the life cycle stages are incomplete of some study, most of the literature are horizontal axis type and the literature for Asian developing countries are rare. In addition, the life cycle study of vertical axis wind turbine is unusual. Since, the life cycle assessment (LCA) study varied from location to location due to industrial performance, countries energy mix and related issues, a life cycle embodied energy, emissions and environmental impacts analysis were undertaken for two grid connected rooftop wind turbines (vertical axis and horizontal axis) considering the industrial performance, applications and related issues in Thailand. The life cycle assessment was done using SimaPro 7.3.3 software from cradle to grave for base case and for alternative cases. The result showed that, wind turbine installation in Thailand at Chiangmai is reliable to deliver wind energy over the year compared to Phuket and Surat Thani Island. The vertical axis wind turbine is energy and emission intensive per kWh/year energy delivered compared to horizontal axis wind turbine for base case system. The embodied energy and environmental impact could be possible to reduce by more than 60% and 50% respectively using reuse of materials strategy. The embodied energy of vertical axis wind turbine could be possible to reduce by 36% with thermoplastic and 40% with fiberglass plastic turbine instead of aluminum turbine, while the environmental impact reduction more than 15% has been observed. The energy intensity, CO2 emission intensity and energy payback time found to be lower when compared with literature.