Investigation of the environmental impact of wind energy and supplemental energy systems using a life cycle approach Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/jd473060q

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  • Wind energy is a promising alternative energy source due to its environmental, economic, and social benefits and, as such, has garnered public support and government incentives for its development and implementation. With the growing number of wind parks in Oregon, a life cycle assessment (LCA) study for a representative new wind park is needed to investigate the potential impacts on the environment. One of the major drawbacks of wind energy generation is its variability due to the stochastic nature of wind. To make wind energy a more reliable source, wind energy generation should be supplemented with controllable energy generation or storage. Thus, the aim of this research is to improve the understanding of the effects of supplemental energy systems on the environmental impacts of wind energy systems. First, the environmental impact of a single wind turbine is examined from raw material extraction to the end of life stage. Research needs are identified to support the assessment of the environmental impacts of wind energy and supplemental energy systems from a life cycle perspective. Next, supplemental electricity generation systems investigated are biomass, hydro, and natural gas electricity generation, and zinc-bromine battery storage. Finally, the results for each system are compared to coal energy generation. It appears that the wind park has lower environmental impact than coal energy generation when paired with any of the complimentary systems investigated. Overall, hydropower appears to be the best option to supplement wind power from an environmental perspective for a potential wind park site in northern Oregon.
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