Our LCA expert Fritz Balkau spotted an analysis on the life-cycle impacts of wind energy whose LCA/LCM results could be interesting for regions wrestling with their zero carbon policies.
Entitled "LCA in Wind Energy: Environmental Impacts through the Whole Chain”, this LCA study on on-shore and off-shore windfarms is easy to understand as it discusses the results of the technical studies, rather than the details of the LCA. It highlights the importance of correctly setting the scope of the study so that it provides a complete picture of the impacts. For windfarms, the manufacturing stage has the biggest impact.
This was not a comparative study. For this the diagram below offers a useful overview of how wind energy compares with other energy sources in its impact on selected SDGs.
Comparison of total life cycle impact of various energy options.( Note the types of impacts considered, and see how these relate to key SDGs). This schema does not allow a view of various life cycle stages of the individual options. The impacts of wind power can be easily compared to other energy options. Source: With permission from UNEP
Finally, we already saw from the case study presented by Acciona Energy during LCA4Regions' First Transnational Learning Journey how an EPD can be prepared for a wind farm, thus bridging the gap between LCA and life cycle management. The case study presented a very complete but easy to read document of how all the environmental impacts can be summarised in a single document. Again, we can appreciate the importance of the scoping step that ensures all relevant SDGs are addressed throughout the entire life cycle. Of course EPDs can be prepared for other products, eg. building insulation, and the procedure is standardised under ISO.