One of the most popular trends in sustainable living is to go small: Live in a small house. Drive a small car. Have a small carbon footprint. So it seems contradictory that by going big—really big—energy equipment can become better for the environment.
But that's the case with wind turbines, according to a new study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
Over the past 30 years, wind turbines have more than quadrupled in size. The blade diameter of today's models can surpass the length of a football field. In tandem with this growth spurt, land-based turbines in Europe became greener, the researchers concluded.
The report, published in the American Chemical Society's journal, Environmental Science & Technology, looked at the energy it took to build, transport, maintain, and dispose of turbines, as well as the electricity the turbines fed into Europe's power grid.