International Journal of Energy Engineering          
International Journal of Energy Engineering(IJEE)
Frequency: Yearly
Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Sri Bandyopadhyay(Australia)
Valuing the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Wind Power
Full Paper(PDF, 734KB)
The growth in both onshore and offshore wind power has been rapid over the past few decades and has led to a need for comparable, consistent and reliable life cycle carbon assessment of wind power in order to provide decision-makers with robust information. The current published estimates for wind power range from 2 to 81 gCO2e/kWh. This study reduces this range through a meta-analysis of 82 estimates gathered from 17 independent studies. Through harmonisation of lifetime, capacity factor and recycling, the published range of life cycle carbon emissions estimates is reduced by 56% to between 2.9 & 37.3 gCO2e/kWh. Average values for onshore and offshore wind power are estimated as 16 & 18.2 gCO2e/kWh respectively after harmonisation and onshore and offshore wind power technologies exhibit similar characteristics in relation to their life cycle carbon emissions. Key differences with previous studies are that this study benefits from inclusion of data from a recently published comprehensive offshore wind farm assessment, and harmonisation is conducted for recycling procedures which results in an increase in the lower band of the range of life cycle carbon emissions estimates.
Keywords:Life Cycle Assessment; Wind Power; Harmonisation; Meta-Analysis
Author: Edward Owens1, Samuel Chapman1
1.Institute of Infrastructure and Environment, The School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, Scotland, UK
  1. A. A. Hassan, “New Energy Externalities Developments for Sustainability (NEEDS) RS 1a: Life cycle approaches to assess emerging energy technologies Final report on offshore wind technology,” 2008.
  2., “Europe’s Installed Wind Capacity Increases to 96,616 MW in 2011 Offshore Wind,” 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 22-Feb-2012].
  3. GWEC, “Global Wind Report. Annual market update 2010,” 2010.
  4. I. Fells and C. Whitmill, “A Pragmatic Energy Policy for the UK,” Oct. 2008.
  5. A. Zervos, C. Kjaer, S. Azau, J. Scola, J. Quesada, and R. Bianchin, “Pure power–wind energy targets for 2020 and 2030,” 2009.
  6. ISO, 14044: Environmental management — Life cycle assessment — Requirements and guidelines, vol. 3, no. 1. 2006.
  7. M. Lenzen, “Energy and CO2 life-cycle analyses of wind turbines - review and applications,” Renewable Energy, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 339–362, Jul. 2002.
  8. S. L. Dolan and G. a. Heath, “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Utility-Scale Wind Power,” Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol. 16, p. no–no, Mar. 2012.
  9. J. Reap, F. Roman, S. Duncan, and B. Bras, “A survey of unresolved problems in life cycle assessment. Part 2,” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 374–388, 2008.
  10. B. Weidema, T. Ekvall, and R. Heijungs, “Guidelines for applications of deepened and broadened LCA,” 2009.
  11. B. Sovacool, “Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey,” Energy Policy, vol. 36, no. 8, pp. 2950–2963, Aug. 2008.
  12. F. Ardente, M. Beccali, M. Cellura, and V. Lobrano, “Energy performances and life cycle assessment of an Italian wind farm,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 200–217, Jan. 2008.
  13. R. H. Crawford, “Life cycle energy and greenhouse emissions analysis of wind turbines and the effect of size on energy yield,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 13, no. 9, pp. 2653–2660, Dec. 2009.
  14. N. D‘Souza, E. Gbegbaje-Das, and P. Shonfield, “Life Cycle Assessment Of Electricity Production from a Vestas V112 Turbine Wind Plant,” Copenhagen, Jan. 2011.
  15. B. Guezuraga, R. Zauner, and W. Pölz, “Life cycle assessment of two different 2 MW class wind turbines,” Renewable Energy, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 37–44, Jan. 2012.
  16. H. Hondo, “Life cycle GHG emission analysis of power generation systems: Japanese case,” Energy, vol. 30, no. 11–12, pp. 2042–2056, Sep. 2005.
  17. N. Jungbluth, C. Bauer, R. Dones, and R. Frischknecht, “Life cycle assessment for emerging technologies: case studies for photovoltaic and wind power,” International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 24–34, 2005.
  18. M. Lenzen and U. Wachsmann, “Wind turbines in Brazil and Germany: an example of geographical variability in life-cycle assessment,” Applied Energy, vol. 77, no. 2, pp. 119–130, Feb. 2004.
  19. Lewis Wind, “Lewis Wind Farm Proposal. Volume 5. Appendix 18B: LWP Life Cycle Analysis Of Lewis Wind Farm with respect to CO2,” 2006.
  20. E. Martinez, F. Sanz, S. Pellegrini, E. Jimenez, and J. Blanco, “Life cycle assessment of a multi-megawatt wind turbine,” Renewable Energy, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 667–673, Mar. 2009.
  21. M. Pehnt, “Dynamic life cycle assessment (LCA) of renewable energy technologies,” Renewable Energy, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 55–71, Jan. 2006.
  22. L. Schleisner, “Life cycle assessment of a wind farm and related externalities,” Renewable Energy, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 279–288, Jul. 2000.
  23. B. Tremeac and F. Meunier, “Life cycle analysis of 4.5MW and 250W wind turbines,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 13, no. 8, pp. 2104–2110, Oct. 2009.
  24. Vestas Wind Systems A/S, “Life cycle assessment of electricity produced from onshore sited wind power plants based on Vestas V82-1.65 MW turbines,” Randers, 2006.
  25. Vestas Wind Systems A/S, “Life Cycle assessment of offshore and onshore sited wind power plants based on Vestas V90-3.0MW turbines,” 2006.
  26. H.-J. Wagner, C. Baack, T. Eickelkamp, A. Epe, J. Lohmann, and S. Troy, “Life cycle assessment of the offshore wind farm alpha ventus,” Energy, vol. 36, no. 5, pp. 2459–2464, May 2011.
  27. Y. Wang and T. Sun, “Life cycle assessment of CO2 emissions from wind power plants: Methodology and case studies,” Renewable Energy, Jan. 2012.
  28. J. Weinzettel, M. Reenaas, C. Solli, and E. Hertwich, “Life cycle assessment of a floating offshore wind turbine,” Renewable Energy, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 742–747, 2009.
  29. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Life Cycle Assessment Harmonisation,” 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06-Jun-2012].
  30. M. Whitaker, G. a. Heath, P. O’Donoughue, and M. Vorum, “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Coal-Fired Electricity Generation,” Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol. 16, pp. S53–S72, Apr. 2012.
  31. S. Suh, M. Lenzen, G. Treloar, H. Hondo, A. Horvath, and G. Huppes, “Critical Review System Boundary Selection in Life-Cycle Inventories Using Hybrid Approaches,” Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 657–664, 2006.
  32. Ecoinvent, “Database Access,” 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 04-Apr-2012].
  34. P. Spath and M. Mann, “Life cycle assessment of a natural gas combined-cycle power generation system,” 2000.
  35. M. Pehnt, M. Oeser, and D. Swider, “Consequential environmental system analysis of expected offshore wind electricity production in Germany,” Energy, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 747–759, May 2008.