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Resourcing the Fairytale Country with Wind Power: A Dynamic Material Flow Analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 15.09.2019, 12:03 by Zhi Cao, Christopher O’Sullivan, Juan Tan, Per Kalvig, Luca Ciacci, Weiqiang Chen, Junbeum Kim, Gang Liu
Wind energy is key to addressing the global climate challenge, but its development is subject to potential constraints of finite primary materials. Prior studies on material demand forecasting of wind power development are often limited to a few materials and with low technological resolution, thus hindering a comprehensive understanding of the impact of microengineering parameters on the resource implications of wind energy. In this study, we developed a component-by-component and stock-driven prospective material flow analysis model and used bottom-up data on engineering parameters and wind power capacities to characterize the materials demand and secondary supply potentials of wind energy development in Denmark, a pioneering and leading country in wind power. We also explicitly addressed the uncertainties in the prospective modeling by the means of statistical estimation and sensitivity analysis methods. Our results reveal increasing challenges of materials provision and end-of-life (EoL) management in Denmark’s ambitious transition toward 100% renewable energy in the next decades. Harnessing potential secondary resource supply from EoL and extending lifetime could curtail the primary material demand, but they could not fully alleviate the material supply risk. Such a model framework that considers bottom-up engineering parameters with increased precision could be applied to other emerging technologies and help reveal synergies and trade-offs of relevant resource, energy, and climate strategies in the future renewable energy and climate transition.