Integrated Energy and Environmental Analysis of Utility-Scale Wind Power Production
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Climate change associated with industrial activity threatens environmental and economic systems worldwide. Wind power was presented as one of several technologies that collectively could mitigate many of the adverse effects of global climate change if deployed at sufficient scale. The objective of this study was to explore the sustainability implications of deploying wind at that scale. The Maple Ridge Wind Energy Facility was identified as the target for analysis. Emergy analysis was performed to explore the total environmental and economic impact of the facility in common units; Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI) was quantified to explore the net energy yield of the facility. EROI and emergy analyses suggested that Maple Ridge is a sustainable enterprise with moderate environmental impact relative to other electricity generation facilities. Implications of these results on the energy landscape of the future were discussed. Policy options to facilitate wind energy industrial growth were explored.