Hybrid life cycle assessment of an onshore wind farm including direct and indirect services: A case study in Guajira, Colombia

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  • Johan Andrés Vélez-Henao
  • David Font Vivanco

To diversify and decarbonize its energy system, Colombia plans a sizeable increase in wind power by installing onshore wind farms in the Guajira region. While presumably superior to other alternatives in terms of environmental performance, this assumption cannot be tested due to the lack of studies in this region. To assess the potential environmental performance of wind power in Colombia, we conduct a hybrid life cycle assessment of a wind farm of 19.5 MW of installed capacity for various impacts. We include both direct (required on-site) and indirect (required in the supply-chain) services associated with the life cycle of the wind farm for completeness, an unprecedented feature in the LCA literature. The results show that the wind farm is associated with low global warming impacts (12.93 gr CO2 eq/kWh) compared with similar studies, mainly due to high wind speeds. Moreover, the inclusion of both direct and indirect services increases the environmental impacts across indicators (with respect to the results without services) from 0% (carcinogenic effects) to 21% (terrestrial eutrophication). Further, sensitivity analysis suggests that the results are highly dependant on the capacity factor, lifespan, and percentage of losses. We conclude that the inclusion of both direct and indirect services is not negligible in the life cycle assessment of wind farms and similar projects, particularly given the substantial services required, such as surveying, legal compliance, etc. Given the difficulty to obtain data on services, we conclude with some recommendations aimed at relevant stakeholders, such as tax benefits and public procurement guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112058
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15.04.2021

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