How much energy is required for the production of wind turbine components

Wind turbines produce clean electricity, but energy also has to be produced for their production, operation, and disposal. So at what point are these quantities of energy recovered? To find the answer, we need to look at “energy amortisation”. Modern turbines can pay for themselves in terms of energy in a few months at most. In other words, the energy consumed for the production, operation, and disposal of the turbine is easily balanced out by the electricity it produces.

Of course, energy amortisation always depends on the turbine’s capacity and height, as well as its location. But even as capacities increase, the net energy and financial return times of a few months remain impressively low. What is more, a wind turbine can generate up to 70 times as much energy during its 20-year lifetime as is required for its production, operation, and disposal. This increases to 90 times more energy if the recycling of materials is included in the life-cycle
assessment (more on the subject of recycling on page 30).

The following illustration shows an example of the average amount of energy used to manufacture a wind turbine and how this is distributed among the individual components.

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