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Open AccessArticle

Material Flows Resulting from Large Scale Deployment of Wind Energy in Germany

1
Department of Technological Design and Development, Faculty of Production Engineering, University of Bremen, Bremen D-28359, Germany
2
ARTEC—Research Center for Sustainability Studies, Bremen D-28359, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Resources 2013, 2(3), 303-334; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources2030303
Received: 16 June 2013 / Revised: 12 August 2013 / Accepted: 14 August 2013 / Published: 27 August 2013
The ambitious targets for renewable energies in Germany indicate that the steady growth of installed capacity of the past years will continue for the coming decades. This development is connected with significant material flows—primary material demand as well as secondary material flows. These flows have been analyzed for Germany up to the year 2050 using a statistical model for the turbines’ discard patterns. The analysis encompasses the flows of bulk metals, plastics, and rare earths (required for permanent magnets in gearless converters). Different expansion scenarios for wind energy are considered as well as different turbine technologies, future development of hub height and rotor diameter, and an enhanced deployment of converters located offshore. In addition to the direct material use, the total material requirement has been calculated using the material input per service unit (MIPS) concept. The analysis shows that the demand for iron, steel, and aluminum will not exceed around 6% of the current domestic consumption. The situation for rare earths appears to be different with a maximum annual neodymium demand for wind energy converters corresponding to about a quarter of the overall 2010 consumption. It has been shown that by efficiently utilizing secondary material flows a net material demand reduction of up to two thirds by 2050 seems possible, (i.e., if secondary material flows are fully used to substitute primary material demand). View Full-Text
Keywords: material flows; MFA; wind energy; Weibull distribution; material demand; secondary materials; renewable energies material flows; MFA; wind energy; Weibull distribution; material demand; secondary materials; renewable energies
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Zimmermann, T.; Rehberger, M.; Gößling-Reisemann, S. Material Flows Resulting from Large Scale Deployment of Wind Energy in Germany. Resources 2013, 2, 303-334.

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