The eco-conscious wind turbine: bringing societal value to design
Abstract. Wind turbines are designed to minimize the cost of energy, a metric aimed at making wind competitive with other energy-producing technologies. However, now that wind energy is competitive, how can we increase its value for society? And how much would a societal gain cost other stakeholders, such as investors or consumers? This paper tries to answer these questions from the perspective of wind turbine design.
Although wind turbines produce green renewable energy, they also generate various impacts on the environment, as all human endeavours. Among all impacts, the present work adopts the environmental effects produced by a turbine over its entire life cycle, expressed in terms of CO2-equivalent emissions. A new approach to design is proposed, whereby Pareto fronts of solutions are computed to define optimal trade-offs between economic and
The new proposed methodology is demonstrated on the redesign of a baseline 3 MW wind turbine at two locations in Germany, differing for typical wind speeds. Among other results, it is found that, in these conditions, a 1 % increase in the cost of energy can buy about a 5 % decrease in the environmental impact of the turbine. Additionally, it is also observed that in the specific case of Germany, very low specific-power designs are typically favored, because they produce more energy at low wind speeds, where both the economic and environmental values of wind are higher.
Although limited to the sole optimization of wind-generating assets at two different locations, these results suggest the existence of new opportunities for the future development of wind energy where, by shifting the focus slightly away from a purely cost-driven short-term perspective, longer-term benefits for the environment (and, in turn, for society) may be obtained.
Helena Canet et al.
Helena Canet et al.
Helena Canet et al.
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This is a great paper that certainly deserves publication in WES. I’d like to congratulate the authors for their hard work and I only have a couple minor comments to further improve their article:
Section 2.1: there are several more LCOE+ metrics in literature than the ones that you report here. I miss why you chose LVOE and NVOE opposed to others, for example PLCOE, which is recommended by Mai et al, 2021.
Sections 3.2 and 3.4 should be expanded. I understand that you are scaling masses and costs solely from rotor diameter and hub height. Your inputs must also include fixed quantities such as rated power and max tip speed (?), which help estimate gearbox and generator torque. A couple extra sentences would help. Also, to show the validity of the assumptions, you should report masses and costs for the baseline WT and show that the absolute values match reasonably well with literature, for example with turbine capital cost numbers provided in https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy22osti/81209.pdf
Page 12, line 322: “A representative scenario of 50% incineration and 50% landfilling is assumed here, as described in Vestas (2011, 2013a, b).” This is surprising to me, I thought that the vast majority of blades ended up in landfills. I looked at some references, for example https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2021.111847 and https://doi.org/10.1177/1048291116676098, and I struggle to find hard numbers. Probably, percentages change from country to country. This said, the references that you provide also don’t seem very solid. Some extra literature and possibly a couple more sentences are recommended to support your assumption.
Figure 9: why is the y axis so tiny? I cannot interpret this plot: I do not see the drop in price with wind speed and I don’t understand what the red markers represent (is it a box-whisker plot?). The caption doesn’t help me much either.