What is the carbon footprint of onshore wind?

Manufacturing and constructing onshore wind turbines does produce some emissions. But these are very small in comparison to emissions from fossil fuels – and vastly outweighed by the emissions saved by using onshore wind instead of fossil fuels. 



Is more carbon dioxide emitted during the process of manufacturing a wind turbine than saved while it generates electricity?



No. After approximately six months of operating, a typical onshore wind turbine will have paid back the emissions emitted in the course of manufacturing it. Over the course of its lifetime, an onshore wind turbine actually produces almost 50 times more energy than required to manufacture it.

The real emissions from wind power 

The manufacture, installation, operation, and eventual decommissioning of onshore wind turbines emits carbon dioxide. 

To put it simply, the production of steel and other components, as well as the heavy truck transportation and construction of wind turbines, involves burning fossil fuels. We’re working on carbon neutral alternatives for the future, but today, these processes are unavoidable when building onshore wind turbines.  
Carbon footprint of onshore wind

99% lower emissions than fossil fuels 

But most of these emissions only need to happen once for each wind turbine, which will be in service for at least 25 years. In this time, they will be producing electricity without emitting any more carbon dioxide, except for those emissions from the vehicles used for service and maintenance.

When you divide the total emissions associated with a wind turbine by the amount of electricity it will produce in its 25-year lifetime, it works out at about 5.3 g of carbon dioxide for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity.

By comparison, power generation based on fossil fuels involves burning more coal, oil, or gas for every kilowatt hour of electricity, on top of the one-off carbon emissions from construction and decommissioning. For coal, this adds up to approximately 865 g per kWh.

In other words, switching from coal- fired generation to wind power can reduce the carbon emitted from energy production by more than 99%.

Ørsted on track to be carbon neutral 

Even though our activities as a renewable energy company do involve creating some carbon emissions, we’re on track to be carbon neutral in our power generation by 2025. 

This will make us the first major energy company to reach such a milestone, placing us way ahead of the science-based targets for the energy sector to limit global warming to 1.5 C.

Beyond that, we’re the first energy company in the world with a validated net-zero target by the Science Based Targets initiative. We aim to be carbon neutral across our entire footprint by 2040. 
Ørsted is on track to be carbon neutral across our entire footprint by 2040

Emission-free wind power on the horizon? 

When it comes to the emissions that are the most difficult to eliminate, one option is carbon offsetting. This means preventing other carbon emissions to compensate for our own. 

But what if we could avoid emitting that last 5.3 g of carbon dioxide from each kWh of offshore wind power in the first place? There are solutions on the horizon that could make this possible. 

We’re already working with strategic suppliers to ensure that all electrical processes in the manufacture of wind turbines use renewable electricity by 2025. 

In the medium term, we will also provide guidelines to make sure that sustainable biofuels are used in activities like shipping where possible. We’re also exploring possibilities including using renewable hydrogen, synthetic fuels based on carbon extracted straight from the atmosphere, or even battery driven vessels that would by charged using renewable electricity.
1) Siemens Gamesa
What is offshore wind power?

What is onshore wind power?

Onshore wind power explained