Simple model for estimating CO2 emissions of wind turbines

  • Abrahamsen, Asger Bech (Main Supervisor)
  • Mwiseneza, Alain (Project Participant)
  • Schjerning Kjeldsen, Axel (Project Participant)
  • Rasmussen, Camilla Anne (Project Participant)
  • Fauerskov, Maiken (Project Participant)
  • Lewis Laurberg, Emilie (Project Participant)
  • Berner Harden, Benedikte (Project Participant)
  • Jakobsen, Freja Rølle (Project Participant)
  • Jørgensen, Emma Koch (Project Participant)
  • Friis-Møller, Mikkel (Supervisor)

Project Details

Description

This project page is presenting a simple model of estimating the CO2 footprint of wind turbines based in the Bill of Materials in order to give an insight into the main material contributions to the CO2 emissions from the onshore as well as initial ideas about the offshore wind turbine technology.

The model is based on a review of the Life Cycle Analysis reports of Vestas onshore wind turbines and the intension is to provide simple emission factor(EF) related to the use of concrete, steel and glass fiber in onshore wind turbines. These 3 classes of materials are covering the majority of the Bill Of Material(BOM) and by only considering these 3 materials one will get an approximate estimate of the combined CO2 emissions from the onshore turbines. Since the emission are obtained from the Vestas LCA reports then they will reflect an European manufacturing supply chain and energy consumptions as well as transportation scenarios. Secondly the assumption of recyclability of material at decommissioning is also related to the Vestas European scenarios. Thus the simple model should not be used for Non-European scenarios without further validation of local conditions.

The main output parameter of the model is the amount of CO2 emission from a wind turbine normalized by the expected life time energy production of the turbine resulting, which result in the CO2 emission in the unit of [gram CO2 / kWh].

The main findings of the model is that the CO2 emission of onshore wind turbine as produced by Vestas has been almost constant for the V90 to the more recent V162, which is indicating that the upscaling of the rotor diameter from D = 90 m to D = 162 m has resulted in a larger material usage at the same time as the production of the turbines has increased. Thus the emission of the Vestas wind turbines are in the range of 5-9 gCO2e / KWh of the series ranging from V90 to V162. If the End of Life recycling is not deducted in the scenarios then the corresponding emissions are 7-13 gCO2e / KWh.

These emission can be described by using the following emission factors ( A. Mwiseneza & A. S. Kjeldsen, "Inventory accounting of DTU reference wind
turbine for LCA analysis", Bachelor thesis 2023)

Steel: 3.62 metric ton CO2e / metric ton steel
Concrete : 0.17 metric ton CO2e / metric ton concrete
Glass fiber composite : 11.40 metric ton CO2e / metric ton glass fiber composite

The life time energy productions of the turbines are obtained from the Weibull wind speed distribution of the typical installation site and the power curve of the turbines.

The creation of the simple model has been done in a series of bachelor projects and reports can be downloaded in the menu to the left. All authors are acknowledged for their contributions to the formulation of the model.

Preliminary estimates of the CO2 emission of the following reference wind turbine are also provided in the reports:

DTU 10 MW reference turbine : 11.19 g CO2e/kWh
NREL 15 MW reference turbine + Monopile : 10.36 gCO2e/kWh
NREL 15 MW reference turbine + UMaine floater : 17.66 g CO2e /kWh

Additional work has been done by Jørgensen&Jacobsen (2024) on investigating the impact of a CO2 tax on the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE) of offshore wind in Denmark by analyzing the optimization of the layout of the coming Thor wind farm using a cost function that is estimating the CO2 emission from steel in the turbines and monopiles as well the CO2 from the cables and is implemented into the TOPFARM tool of DTU. With a CO2 tax of 750 kr/ton CO2 ( ~100 €/ton CO2) then the LCoE is estimated to increase by 1-2 %.


Key findings

Simple model for estimating the CO2 emissions from wind turbines based on the usage of concrete, steel and glass fiber.

Onshore turbines emissions ( incl. End of Life) : 5-9 g CO2e/kWh
Onshore turbines emissions ( Excl. End of Life) : 7-13 g CO2e/kWh

Preliminary estimates of the CO2 emission of the following reference wind turbine are also provided in the reports:

DTU 10 MW reference turbine : 11.2 g CO2e/kWh
NREL 15 MW reference turbine + Monopile : 10.4 g CO2e/kWh
NREL 15 MW reference turbine + UMaine floater : 17.7 g CO2e /kWh

With a CO2 tax in the order to 750 kr/ton CO2 ( ~100 €/ton CO2) then the LCOE of the coming offshore wind farm Thor is estimated to increase by 1-2 %.
Short titleWindToCO2
AcronymVind2CO2
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date01/09/202101/06/2023

Collaborative partners

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

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