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Company unveils the Incredible Hulk of wind power with hopes it’ll revolutionize the industry: ‘One of the cornerstones of the … transition’

“Wind power has a carbon footprint 99% less than coal-fired power plants, 98% less than natural gas, and a surprise 75% less than solar.”

"Wind power has a carbon footprint 99% less than coal-fired power plants, 98% less than natural gas, and a surprise 75% less than solar."

Photo Credit: iStock

Like Incredible Hulks of energy production, wind turbines are getting greener as they gain power — the better to take on some of the world’s most challenging problems.

Wind turbines are already among the most effective tools for producing electricity without polluting the air during power generation. Now, the GreenerTower, from European renewable energy company Siemens Gamesa, aims to make clean energy cleaner by reducing the pollution of wind turbine production. 

A video posted to LinkedIn by the World Economic Forum (WEF) explains that the GreenerTower will use steel that produces 63% less carbon pollution than conventional steel. The tower is due to be available for wind projects this year, with at least one order made already.

As Siemens Gamesa details, the pollution reduction will be achieved by using steel with less energy-intensive manufacturing, more recycled scrap, and more renewable energy to power the steel-making.

The company will use third-party verification to ensure there is at most the equivalent of 0.7 tons of carbon pollution per ton of greener steel (compared with 1.91 tons of pollution per ton of conventional steel) “while maintaining the same steel properties and quality” as current products, per a release.

Traditional steel manufacturing creates significant pollution, and Siemens Gamesa says tower production accounts for about 33% of all carbon pollution associated with a wind turbine. 

Wind turbines are still far less polluting than dirty energy sources like coal and gas. In an article for WEF, Siemens Gamesa CEO Jochen Eickholt noted that even accounting for the whole production process, wind turbines are only responsible for 10 grams of carbon pollution per kilowatt-hour (kWh) produced — dirtier fuels are responsible for 800 grams per kWh.

These stats echo a Forbes analysis that said “wind power has a carbon footprint 99% less than coal-fired power plants, 98% less than natural gas, and a surprise 75% less than solar.”

And yet, greener turbines could still be a towering achievement. Siemens Gamesa estimates that “If all towers installed by the company in one year were exchanged with GreenerTowers, it would be the same as removing more than 466,000 cars from the roads in Europe for a year.”

So, sourcing electricity from GreenerTowers could be a way for people to power their lives with even less of the air pollution impacts that cause health problems and overheat the planet.

Other efforts to make wind turbine production more sustainable include using wood to make towers and recycling old turbine blades creatively.

“Wind power is one of the cornerstones of the green energy transition,” Maximilian Schnippering, Siemens Gamesa’s head of sustainability, said in a statement. “With more than 600 [gigawatts] of new capacity to be installed worldwide in the next five years, it is important for the wind industry to reduce its carbon footprint. Our project to address emissions with greener steel is one such solution.”

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