Conference paper: Life Cycle Assessment of Locally Manufactured Small Wind Turbines and Pico-Hydro Plants

Wind Empowerment members Katerina Troullaki and Kostas Latoufis have published the paper “Life Cycle Assessment of Locally Manufactured Small Wind Turbines and Pico-Hydro Plants“.

The environmental impacts of a locally manufactured small wind turbine (LMSWT) in Ethiopia and a locally manufactured pico-hydro plant (LMPHP) in Greece are assessed and compared with the impacts of a small petrol generator. Data for the two case studies are taken from the 2015 WE collaborative project in Ethiopia and a 2013 project in Greece by WE member RurErg. Variations in wind resource and in maintenance requirements are also considered for the assessment.

The study finds that most environmental impacts come from the manufacturing of electrical and electronic components, such as the batteries and the inverter, rather than the actual wind turbine or hydro plant.

Both renewable energy systems have significantly lower impacts when compared to a small generator set. The pico-hydro plant has the lowest impacts due to its high capacity factor, while the impacts of the small wind turbine depend heavily on the average wind speed of the installation site.

It is worth noticing that, from an environmental impacts perspective, the site’s average wind speed proved to be a more significant factor than the number of failures occurring in the lifetime of a LMSWT. To this end, a better choice in site location may compensate for the increased maintenance requirements of LMSWTs.

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