Wind Turbines Yield Almost Immediate Net Benefit

June 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Clean Power

Published on June 19th, 2014
by Joshua S Hill


Wind energy has often been heralded as one of the saviours of planet Earth, as well as being economically beneficial and efficient: it is the oft-unmentioned winning-point for renewable technologies that they are not only environmentally friendly, but also cheaper to run and invest than traditional energy generation methods.

Adding insult to injury, therefore, for those who dismiss renewable energy — and wind energy in particular — as an effective means of moving forward, is new research published in the International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing which has determined that a wind turbine with an estimated working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online.

US researchers Karl R. Haapala and Preedanood Prempreeda from the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, at Oregon State University, conducted an environmental lifecycle assessment of two 2 MW wind turbines and found that the cumulative energy payback will take place within a year of being turned on. 

A life cycle assessment like the one conducted in this research looks at the net environmental impact across the whole spectrum of construction, installation, and running; raw materials, transport, manufacturing, installation, ongoing maintenance, recycling, and disposal at the end of its life.

The final analysis showed that the largest environmental impacts were caused by materials production and the manufacturing process, but this impact is paid back within 6 months. Even in the worst-case-scenarios, it is expected a wind turbine will pay for its environmental impact within the first year of its use.

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About the Author

I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket!

I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.
I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.

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  • I wonder if impact on birds of prey and bats were considered as environmental impacts. I heard of people being paid to go below wind turbines to pick up dead birds and bats. However, there doesn’t seem to be a requirement for companies to document the number of fatalities. In some poorly located wind farms, there are significant number of deaths, such as in Wyoming where Duke Energy paid a $1million in fine for killing golden eagles.

    • Well, considering that pollution from fossil fuels kills way more birds than wind turbines ever could, wind energy provides a near-instantaneous benefit in this area as well. But really, in a world where domestic cats, buildings and industrial pollution all kill thousands of times more birds than wind turbines, fretting about bird deaths caused by the wind industry is just a red herring. Please look at the hard numbers before spreading baseless rumors.

    • FUD, Charlotte. You should be ashamed of yourself for spreading FUD.

  • Yep, what is needed now is large scale storage so excess energy when produced isn’t sold at an excessively discounted rate or wasted.

  • Even in the worst-case-scenarios, it is expected a wind turbine will pay for its environmental impact within the first year of its use.

    • Please delete above (Michelle) link, it is a sales click thru and totally unrelated to any cleantechnica topic.

      • This A-hole shows up under a different name daily. If you see one of these posts just flag it and I’ll take it down.

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