Emergy-based sustainability evaluation of wind power generation systems

             

Emergy-based sustainability evaluation of wind power generation systems

Abstract

With large-scale commercialization of wind technology, one must investigate economical and sustainable wind resource utilization. In this paper, emergy analysis is used to quantify the environmental pressure, renewability, economic efficiency, and sustainability of a typical wind power system, considering the lifetime stages from extraction and processing of raw materials and resources to the final product (electricity) via material transportation, construction and operation. Possible pathways to achieve sustainable management of wind energy supply chain were also analyzed based on scenario analysis. Results show that wind power is a promising means of substituting traditional fossil fuel-based power generation systems, with the lowest transformity of 4.49 × 104 sej/J, smaller environmental loading ratio of 5.84, and lower greenhouse gas emission intensity of 0.56 kg/kWh. To shed light on potential pathways to achieve sustainable and low-carbon wind energy supply chain management and make informed choices, a sensitivity analysis was done by establishing scenarios from the perspectives of material recycling and technical development. Results suggest that using new materials of lower energy intensity or recycled materials in upstream wind turbine manufacturing and construction materials are the most effective measures.

Keywords

  • Emergy analysis;
  • Wind farm;
  • Emergetic ternary diagrams;
  • Scenario analysis

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