Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 1663–1670 | Cite as

Life Cycle Assessment of Energy Balance and Emissions of a Wind Energy Plant

Original paper


Life cycle analysis (LCA) methodology was used to perform a quantitative, comparative analysis and rating of the construction and operation of a wind energy plant. For this case study, the Glacier Hills Wind Park (90 1.8-MW turbines in south-central Wisconsin) was evaluated. Significant environmental and economic benefits are often advertised with the installation of new wind energy facilities, although independent and comprehensive LCA and sustainable energy science are typically not implemented. Hence, a quantitative demonstration with LCA methodology of the life cycle emissions and environmental impact, from construction through operations, can greatly assist in highlighting significant areas of energy consumption and emissions during manufacturing, transportation, and construction of a wind farm. Results portray the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption/generation over the life cycle of the wind park. Transportation of large components from overseas led to the consumption of considerable quantities of fossil fuel, responsible for up to 22 % of the total greenhouse gas emissions due to transportation. The energy payback ratio (25.5), energy payback time (12.3 months) and the total grams of equivalent CO2(eq) per kWh of energy (16.9) produced were calculated over the life time of this onshore wind farm.


Wind energy plant Life cycle assessment Energy balance Greenhouse gas emissions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Engineering Professional DevelopmentUniversity of Wisconsin MadisonMadisonUSA

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