I am looking for sources on the carbon intensity of wind power.

Concrete doesn't directly emit CO2 but the process to make it does in fact emit it. Because concrete is made of aggregate, which contains carbon, doing any chemistry on it will release that. The sources on the internet imply a ton of concrete releases a similar amount of CO2.

So it is obvious that the manufacture of wind turbines involves emission of CO2. Furthermore, wind turbines might not generate enough power to manufacture concrete for another turbine. Has anyone done the math on how much concrete a turbine needs, how much CO2 this concrete emits, and compared it to the counter factual CO2 savings of the turbine?

Just as some example math, it looks like a 1mw turbine saves "2100 lb per hour". Say it lasts 100k hours (?). That's 100kt co2.

This appears to be at 100% efficiency so a better number might be 1-10kt. Then the thousand tons of concrete produce a similar amount of co2 so it's about 1:1.

  • $\begingroup$ Plenty of studies cover this - some very good ones by the Danish. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 25, 2022 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ What is it exactly what you are after? My understanding from what you've written is that you want to determine if the CO2 emitted from the concrete base is offset by the reduced CO2 emission for energy production (compared to what is another valid question). Is that correct? $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Jan 25, 2022 at 9:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Aggregate is rocks, not really a significant source of carbon. The carbon footprint of concrete is the fossil fuels to heat the kiln for making the cement portion. $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Jan 25, 2022 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ No concrete emits co2 directly en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcination $\endgroup$
    – Nrenene
    Jan 25, 2022 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @TigerGuy plus the carbon dioxide evolved in thermal decomposition of calcium carbonate to calcium oxide. $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2022 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


According to the following study, the values for entire cycle of a 1.8MW-gearless and 2MW-gearbox are the following:

Units Turbine 2.0 MW-geared Turbine 1.8 MW-gearless
1 Total CO2eq t 1164 578
2 Total cumulative energy requirements GWh 3.91 2.11
3 Annual energy generated GWh 5.98 3.27
4 Energy payback time (2)/(3) yr 0.65 0.64
5 CO2e g/kWh 9.73 8.82

The total CO2 equivalent for the lifetime (from manufacturing to dismantling) is in the order of 1000 t of CO2 (measured indirectly as energy required to manufacture the wind turbine). In about 8 months (0.65 of a year) that energy is produced from a working wind turbine (Keeping in mind that the wind turbine works for 20-30 years)

  • $\begingroup$ That means a wind turbine lasts 3x as long as a car, or 10x as long as a air conditioner, but whatever $\endgroup$
    – Nrenene
    Jan 25, 2022 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JDjdj I see you are struggling to make sense of my answer in a similar way I am struggling to understand your question... but whatever. $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Jan 25, 2022 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ KODE novus lasted a lot less $\endgroup$
    – Nrenene
    Jan 25, 2022 at 12:20

Concrete is 4 to 5 times less carbon generating than comparable materials such as asphalt pavement.

Each cubic yard of concrete production generates 400 lbs of CO2 which is roughly equal to what a full tank of gas on a car will do. source

An average wind turbine will need approximately 400 yards of concrete.

An average wind turbine generates 4 megawatts of power, saving 2100lbs of CO2 every hour compared to what would be released by a fossil fuel plant.

The benefits of using clean energy are far greater than this answer can point out.

In Europe 14-18 percent of electricity is wind power. and it is growing. source

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see your math $\endgroup$
    – Nrenene
    Jan 25, 2022 at 8:14

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