Focusing on the business case is important, but what about the environmental effects of Wind for Industry® projects?
It is a renewable source of energy unlike fossil fuels collected from the earth. When wind blows and the blades of a wind turbine begin to turn, energy is created without burning and producing carbon byproducts. There are no air pollutants, carbon dioxide, or other greenhouse gases generated by wind turbines during operation.
According to the EPA, in 2014, electricity production accounted for >30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, with more than 65% of the electricity coming from carbon-based production (coal, natural gas, or petroleum-based combustion). Replacing carbon-based production with renewable energy sources will help reduce the greenhouse gases emitted. In addition, studies have found that energy utilized in the manufacturing and transportation of a wind turbine (including foundation, tower, and generator) is minimal, and recovered in the first year of operation of a single wind turbine.
One wind turbine with a total of 1.5 MW of rated capacity will produce 3,942,000 kWh of electricity in an average year (assuming a 30% capacity factor). This amount of electricity generation is equivalent to 2,770 metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted, which means if a carbon-based power plant were to produce 3,942,000 kWh of electricity in a year, it would release 2,770 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 2,770 metric tons is called the Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) for a One Energy wind turbine.
Environmental Benefits of Wind Energy
The installation of just three 1.5 MW wind turbines has a significant positive environmental impact. A project of this scope could provide 13,797,000 kWh of electricity annually, and would avoid annual emissions equivalent to*:
- 9,514 metric tons of carbon dioxide
- CO2 emissions from using 1,066,569 gallons of gasoline
- Greenhouse gas emissions from 1,865 vehicles
- CO2 emissions from consuming 22,125 barrels of oil
- The carbon sequestered by 2,029 acres of pine or fir forests
- CO2 emissions from burning 4,708.1 metric tons of coal
- Greenhouse gas emissions from sending 3,315 tons of waste into a landfill
- The installation of just three 1.5 MW wind turbines would have the same positive environmental impact as planting 210,000 trees
The wind industry is a global market; however, One Energy looks for opportunities to buy locally whenever possible. One Energy’s Wind for Industry® projects allow our customers to invest in the local community by committing to a 20-year Renewable Energy Agreement for wind energy at their production facility(ies) and buying locally allows One Energy to extend this investment to other businesses in the community.
One example of local procurement is the steel wind towers. One Energy developed the current 80-meter tower design and purchases the tubular tower sections from Ventower Industries in Monroe, MI, about 70 miles from our North Findlay Wind Campus (NFWC) headquarters. Ventower employs >150 workers at their tower manufacturing facility and has the capacity to build >170 towers annually for turbine manufacturers and development companies like One Energy. The One Energy tower installations are some of the closest installed Ventower-manufactured towers to the facility in Monroe, so Ventower’s employees have the opportunity to visit the NFWC to see their product installed and operational. One Energy benefits from this proximity as well; transportation costs are reduced due to the short hauling distances, and for any maintenance or technical support activities, Ventower can dispatch a field team quickly to One Energy’s Wind for Industry® sites.
In addition to the structural tower being sourced locally, the internal tower platforms were designed in-house by One Energy and fabricated at Findlay Machine & Tool’s fabrication center in Findlay, Ohio. The benefits for One Energy are similar to the tubular towers; if any issues with fabrication or in the field arise, an FMT team can be dispatched to help troubleshoot or fix the problems on site.
While specific project constraints may restrict us, we make every effort to buy locally when possible.
Once one of One Energy’s Wind for Industry® projects is installed in a community, it is a part of the landscape for the next 20+ years. One Energy has a commitment to our customers and the local communities to provide information about our projects and be responsible partners.
There are many ways One Energy begins to interact with a community. Initially, during the project development phases, the One Energy team will interface with local government groups, such as the Planning Commission, to determine if any permits or easements are required to build or extend roads, or the structures on a Wind for Industry® site. Information such as project one-pagers and site drawings are shared to get buy-in from these groups regarding specific aspects of the site design and physical interface of the wind turbines with the community.
From there, One Energy is very proactive in contacting local schools and giving presentations that describe wind energy, how Wind for Industry® projects benefit our customers and the community, and what to expect as the construction phases move forward. Depending on the project site, there may be additional community open-house events or other informative ways for community members to understand One Energy, wind energy, and to have all their questions answered.
We believe in investing in the communities where our customers and our projects are located. This investment comes in the form of educational outreach at all levels: economic development, STEM scholarships, chambers of commerce, government agencies, community engagement, creating clean and attractive spaces, supporting local charities, and the ongoing time and commitment of One Energy team members.