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Carbon dioxide ‘savings’ from wind farms  

Author:  | Emissions, U.K.

The basis on which the calculation of CO2 savings from a wind farm is made has changed over time. This note sets out the historical development and current practice, as the amount claimed has fallen from 1 tonne per megawatt of generation to as low as 0.27 tonne.

“However, even these figures are exaggerated as they make no allowance for CO2 expended in manufacture and installation, the mining of iron ore and limestone for steel and cement manufacture, the liberation of CO2 from peat which is damaged during construction, and the need to provide back-up of up to 90% of the installed wind capacity. This last critical issue has been confirmed recently by the Director of the UK Renewable Energy Strategy (Mr Christopher Barton) when he said ‘the intermittency issue is not an insurmountable one, albeit that surmounting the problem comes at a cost, for example, there will need to be greater overall generation capacity in the UK [our emphasis] as you introduce more intermittent generation . This was even further emphasised by Paul Golby the Chief Executive of E-on UK) when he pointed out that Britain would need to construct 44 gigawatts of EXTRA coal and gas-fired plant if the 2020 target was reached, just to back-up wind . Eon confirmed this in a technical note to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in June 2008. The Oxford economist Dieter Helm summed it up when he said, ‘we would need to have more conventional power stations to allow us to have ‘windmills’. What an Alice-in-Wonderland world’!”

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