Performance and life cycle assessment of a small scale vertical axis wind turbine
Kouloumpis, V; Sobolewski, RA; Yan, X
Date: 20 February 2020
Journal of Cleaner Production
Wind energy is one of the most popular renewable energy technologies that is considered indispensable in any low carbon energy mix. Small scale wind technologies that occupy less space and can supply electricity directly to their owners are thought to be more environmental friendly than the large turbines and therefore attract less ...
Wind energy is one of the most popular renewable energy technologies that is considered indispensable in any low carbon energy mix. Small scale wind technologies that occupy less space and can supply electricity directly to their owners are thought to be more environmental friendly than the large turbines and therefore attract less criticism. Based on these, smaller scale renewables especially micro wind turbines should be the ideal solution but this might be just a leap of logic. The aim of this paper is to investigate whether it is worth developing smaller scale vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) as a solution towards mitigating climate change. A real case of a H-Rotor 5 kW Darrieus vertical axis wind turbine in Poland is investigated for its performance using actual generation data. More importantly, a life cycle assessment (LCA) is undertaken, by compiling a very detailed life cycle inventory based on primary data and two scenarios were examined for the end-of-life treatment, including recycling and incineration. The performance assessment results show that the actual performance is very poor mainly due to the low wind speed. For this reason a series of hypothetical capacity factors were used to facilitate comparison with other studies. Using the CML impact assessment methodology, eleven environmental impact categories are assessed. The results show that the majority of the impacts are accredited to the supporting infrastructure - especially the mast and the foundations - rather than the turbine itself, which in the case of the Global Warming Potential (GWP) accounts for only 30%. Although the specific VAWT cannot achieve a generation that could reduce the environmental impacts to the level of the existing wind energy in Poland, a feasible capacity factor of 1.4% could make the GWP lower than the average low voltage electricity mix in Poland. The environmental performance is very sensitive to the fluctuations of the capacity factor and recommendations are given for appropriate siting, recycling of the metals and integration of the turbine on existing building structure.
College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
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