Electricity produced by wind turbines contributes significantly less to global warming than electricity produced by fossil fuels. To examine how much each stage of the wind power plant's life cycle contributes to global warming, we assessed their specific CO2 emissions.
payback time for a wind turbine
We collected data from Siemens’ own production sites and from main suppliers. Consumption data for manufacturing as well as waste and subsequent treatment is based primarily on annual manufacturing data from European production sites. Transport of materials to the manufacturing site is included in the data. Percentage of global warming contribution from this life cycle stage: 8%
On-site installation includes preparing the site, erecting the turbines, and connecting the turbines to the grid. These installation activities result in the consumption of resources and production of waste. Percentage of global warming contribution from this life cycle stage: 5%
The structural design lifetime of a Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbine is designed to last 20 years. Manpower, materials, and energy required for service and maintenance over the turbine’s lifetime are taken into account. There are almost no emissions during wind power plant operation. The percentage of global warming contribution from this life cycle stage is 2%.
At the wind power plant’s end-of-life the components are disassembled and the materials transported and treated according to different waste management systems. There is an offset to emissions at end-of-life because a large part of the materials is recyclable. The percentage of global warming contribution from this life cycle stage is -20%.