How clean are the white giants?

Energy balances of wind turbines

Offshore wind energy Paul Langrock / RUBIN / RUB
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Tall and slim, bright white against the blue sky, she knows everyone in this country: with 16, 000 wind turbines, actually wind turbines (WTG), Germany is world champion in the use of wind energy. A good third of all wind turbines in the world are here, and in 2003 they supplied five percent of the total electricity demand.

And that's not all: in the future, the wind turbines are also to conquer the oceans. There, the wind blows stronger and more evenly than on land. Alone for the German North and Baltic Sea there are thirty-one applications for the construction of wind farms, seven more have already been approved. For the first two of them - Borkum-West and Butendiek - construction contracts have already been awarded.

Electricity from wind - at first glance a clean thing, finally "reap" renewable energy. It only takes a second look to see how much material and effort is required to produce or maintain a wind turbine.

Does the environmentally-friendly energy actually outweigh the resources needed to build, maintain and recycle the wind turbine? And what about this relationship with marine facilities, where you have to build steel structures in water depths of up to 40 meters, which carries a platform above the water, on which finally stands the actual wind turbine? The bottom line is that scientists can now calculate with integrated energy balances ...

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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hermann-Josef Wagner / RUBIN / Ruhr-University Bochum
As of: 12.08.2005 Display