How much concrete and steel is needed to build new wind turbines, measured by MWh?

Wind turbine farms use more materials than most other types of power plants. Of course, the actual amounts vary tremendously with turbine models and their geographic location but it is still useful to calculate some illustrative averages.

We analyzed several research studies to calculate the average weight of materials for wind turbines and then normalized it to pounds per megawatt hour (lb / MWh).

Assuming a normal lifetime of a wind turbine, about 5 pounds of steel, fiberglass, and other materials are needed to generate 1 megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity. If you include the concrete foundation, the weight jumps up to 25 pounds per MWh.

Note the large majority of this weight is from the cement foundations poured to keep the turbine upright. The second largest weight is from the steel tower, most of which is recyclable.

Download the full spreadsheet via the button at the bottom of the embedded Excel document.

Code: m148 GWhLbWind math xbMath