Small-scale horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) are a promising alternative energy resource for the off-grid generation of household electricity. In this study, we conducted a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption pertaining to the environmental impact of a Taiwanese-built 600 W HAWT. This investigation was divided into five phases: (1) materials; (2) production; (3) transport; (4) disposal; (5) recycling. Four main components of a HAWT were focused on: (a) rotor; (b) generators; (c) electronic components; (d) tower. Based on the evaluation, the production phase and the fabrication of generator make the highest contribution to GHG emissions, whereas the phase of materials and the fabrication of generator are responsible for the most energy consumption. Based on estimations of the power generated by the HAWT under the local wind conditions in Tainan, Taiwan, it is estimated that the HAWT would require 160.9 years to return the energy used in the production and disposal of the devices and 100.1 years to counter-balance the production of GHGs.
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