Valuing the manufacturing externalities of wind energy: assessing the environmental profit and loss of wind turbines in Northern Europe

Sovacool, Benjamin K, Munoz Perea, Marco Alberto, Alfredo, Villa Matamoros and Enevoldsen, Peter (2016) Valuing the manufacturing externalities of wind energy: assessing the environmental profit and loss of wind turbines in Northern Europe. Wind Energy, 19 (9). pp. 1623-1647. ISSN 1095-4244

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Abstract

This study draws from a concept from green accounting, lifecycle assessment, and industrial ecology known as 'environmental profit and loss” (EP&L) to determine the extent of externalities across the manufacturing lifecycle of wind energy. So far, no EP&Ls have involved energy companies and none have involved wind energy or wind turbines. We perform an EP&L for three types of wind turbines sited and built in Northern Europe (Denmark and Norway) by a major manufacturer: a 3.2 MW onshore turbine with a mixed concrete steel foundation, a 3.0 MW offshore turbine with a steel foundation, and a 3.0 MW offshore turbine with a concrete foundation. For each of these three turbine types, we identify and monetize externalities related to carbon dioxide emissions, air pollution, and waste. We find that total environmental losses range from €1.1 million for the offshore turbine with concrete foundation to €740,000 for onshore turbines and about €500,000 for an offshore turbine with steel foundation—equivalent to almost one-fifth of construction cost in some instances. We conclude that carbon dioxide emissions dominate the amount of environmental damages and that turbines need to work for 2.5 to 5.5 years to payback their carbon debts. Even though turbines are installed in Europe, China and South Korea accounted for about 80% of damages across each type of turbine. Lastly, two components, foundations and towers, account for about 90% of all damages. We conclude with six implications for wind energy analysts, suppliers, manufacturers, and planners. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Nora Blascsok
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2016 06:08
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2017 12:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/62404

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