Joe Romm of Think Progress reports A New Wind Turbine Generates Back The Energy It Takes To Build It In Just 6 Months, based on a study just published by The European Photovoltaic Industry Association which says, “(d)epending on the type of PV system and the location of the installation, the EPBT at present is between 0.5 and 1.4 years.”
After doing a comprehensive study of the full life-cycle of 2 megawatt wind turbines researchers at Oregon State found their energy payback time comparable to solar photovoltaic systems which have fallen from 40 year to half a year to a year and half from 1970 to 2010.
A new study finds that wind turbines have an energy payback of 6 months, which is comparable to the best solar photovoltaic systems. In other words, in their first six months of operation, large wind turbines produce the same total amount of energy that was needed to produce and install them. …
The myth that wind and solar power are bad investments from an energy-payback perspective has been around for years. It even turned up in the error-riddled 2009 book “Superfreakonomics,” repeated by Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO of Microsoft.
It’s difficult to compare this to the energy payback time for fossil fuel plants, because not only do they require a great deal of energy to construct and fuel, they also cause climate change and mooch off of millions of years and heat and pressure provided by the earth.
Of course, decades ago, when manufacturers had not yet applied mass-production techniques to those then-nascent technologies, the energy payback time (EPBT) of renewables was considerably worse. That’s clear from this chart in “PE Magazine,” the lead publication of the National Society of Professional Engineers.
In general, the more sunlight at a solar installation the faster the energy payback. In the future, we can expect a continued improvement in energy payback. Year after year, renewable energy becomes a better and better investment.