While staying with family in Devon I read your report on the proposed windfarm at Davidstow. I was very disappointed to see that it contained statistics that I think massively overstated the environmental benefits of the windfarm.It seems it is now common practice for windfarm developers and environmental groups to use the Press to broadcast claims that might not stand up to further rigourous scrutiny.
I think it is your duty to ensure that this type of claim is critically examined before publication regardless of whether it is presented as fact or as a quote from the developer.
It may be true that the output from the Davidstow windfarm would replace 113,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide if it were to replace electricity generated in a coal-fired power station.
But it is equally true that it would replace almost no carbon dioxide whatsoever if it were to replace electricity generated in a nuclear power station.
Because of this, both the Government and the Carbon Trust use grid average emissions when calculating carbon savings, which halves the expected saving to 57,500 tonnes. The developer’s claim also fails to account for the carbon cost of building the windfarm – likely to be some 70,000 tonnes of CO2. Spread over the life expectancy of 20-25 years for the windfarm, this would reduce the average annual saving further to 54,000-54,700 tonnes.
The 32,000 cars then becomes about 15,300 cars, but only if they are brand new, small, fuel-efficient cars – hardly the norm for the cars on Cornwall’s roads. If you spin the statistics another way, you can argue that each turbine is the equivalent of about 3 HGVs. Perhaps a more meaningful statistic is that the saving for each turbine equals the carbon footprint of about 245 Britons.
The only significant impact this windfarm will have is on the profit margins of the developers.
31 July 2007
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