The carbon emissions of wind power; A study of emissions of windmill in the panhandle of Texas

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Conference Title

American Solar Energy Society National Solar Conference 2020 Proceedings

Date of Presentation



The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in its 2018 Report on “Climate Change: Current and Projected Impacts on the U.S.” called for the need for removal of existing carbon from the atmosphere to prevent the projected climate disasters by 2050 (NOAA, Fahey, SOLAR 2018 Conference). This warning necessitates an examination of the carbon footprint of renewables, especially solar photovoltaic and wind generation. The electricity generation from both wind and solar photovoltaics has been on the rise globally in recent years. In this paper we study the carbon footprint of wind generation from a 1.3 megawatts (MW) located in the wind sweet spot of the U.S., namely, Panhandle of Texas. We are also investigating the carbon footprint of solar photovoltaics and will report the results in the near future. Our model includes the carbon cost of manufacturing, transportation, installation, operation, and maintenance of windmills. Our results show that a 1.3 MW windmill operating in the Panhandle of Texas produces 14.45 grams of carbon dioxide for each kilowatt (kWh) of generated electricity. Compared to carbon dioxide intensity of 792 grams CO2 /kWh of electricity produced by an average coal power plant, wind power generation produces 1.8% emissions, a substantial 98.2% reduction in emissions. However, with 286.8 billion kWh wind generation in 2019, this amount to 4.13 million ton (MT) of annual emissions by wind, which will increase substantially as deeper levels of wind generation is achieved in the next several decades. Our results agree well with those reported by others.

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