University of Oulu

Omodara, L., Saavalainen, P., Pitkäaho, S., Pongrácz, E., & Keiski, R. L. (2023). Sustainability assessment of products—Case study of wind turbine generator types. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 98, 106943.

Sustainability assessment of products : case study of wind turbine generator types

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Author: Omodara, Linda1; Saavalainen, Paula1; Pitkäaho, Satu1;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, P.O Box 4300, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering, P.O Box 4300, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2023
Publish Date: 2022-11-25


This study proposes a product sustainability assessment tool (PSAT) that addresses the environmental, health and safety, social, and economic sustainability aspects from a life cycle perspective. The proposed PSAT uses the principles of Green Chemistry, Industrial Ecology, and Green Engineering as guidelines in the development of its assessment criteria. The developed assessment criteria are expressed as easy-to-answer questions covering the environmental, social, health and safety and economic aspects of sustainability. PSAT also incorporates life cycle assessment impact categories and the Circular Economy approach. PSAT comprises an Excel checklist of a questionnaire with a drop-down list of answers to select from describing the sustainability impact of the assessed product. PSAT serves to highlight the sustainability hotspots in a product’s life cycle. The questionnaire consists of qualitative and quantitative assessment criteria and contains a total of 97 questions, out of which there are 11 design questions, 22 materials selection questions, 31 manufacturing questions, 24 use questions, and 9 end-of-life questions. The PSAT scoring system enables users to compare the sustainability performance of their products. PSAT aims to aid users in making informed decisions before purchasing a product based on the information on how the product is designed and what materials it contains, how it was manufactured, how it will perform during its use, and what will happen at the end of its useful life. It also aims to aid product manufacturers and designers in incorporating sustainability into all stages of the product life cycle. The PSAT methodology promotes a holistic view of a product life cycle, including the design, materials selection, manufacturing, use, and end-of-life stage.

As a case study, PSAT was used to perform a comparative sustainability assessment of two types of 3 MW rated power wind turbines: a direct-drive permanent magnet synchronous generator (PMSG) and a doubly-fed induction generator with a gearbox (DFIG). The results from the sustainability assessment reveal that the DFIG wind turbine had a better sustainability impact than the direct-drive PMSG in the materials selection, manufacturing, and end-of-life life cycle stages. On the other hand, the direct-drive PMSG had a better sustainability impact than DFIG in the life cycle stages design and use. Overall, DFIG demonstrated a better sustainability impact than the direct-drive PMSG.

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Series: Environmental impact assessment review
ISSN: 0195-9255
ISSN-E: 1873-6432
ISSN-L: 0195-9255
Volume: 98
Article number: 106943
DOI: 10.1016/j.eiar.2022.106943
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 218 Environmental engineering
1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: The authors wish to thank the Technology and Natural Sciences (TNS) Doctoral Programme of the University of Oulu, K-H Renlund Foundation, Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation, Tauno Tönning Foundation, KAUTE foundation, and Finnish Cultural Foundation for their financial support.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (