Library filed under Pollution

A guide to calculating the carbon dioxide debt and payback time for wind farms

Hall-co2payback_thumb It is broadly accepted that wind turbines do not emit CO2 at the point of generation. However, in common with all types of power station, it is emitted during their construction and, through damage directly inflicted on the construction site, over a much longer period. The total debt will vary from site to site but will comprise some or all of the following; • Emissions arising from fabrication (steel smelting, forging of turbine columns, the manufacture of blades and the electrical and mechanical components); • Emissions arising from construction (transportation of components, quarrying, building foundations, access tracks and hard standings, commissioning); • The indirect loss of CO2 uptake (fixation) by plants originally on the surface of the site but obliterated by construction activity including the destruction of active bog plants on wet sites and deforestation; • Emissions due to the indirect, long-term liberation of CO2 from carbon stored in peat due to drying and oxidation processes caused by construction of the site. It is important to recognise that peat is a major store of carbon accumulated from dead plant remains over many millennia. It is held in perpetuity because the bog’s wetness and acid conditions prevent the access of oxygen and inhibit the growth of bacteria which would otherwise rot the vegetation. Draining peat for construction reverses both these long-term processes: the soil is exposed to the air, the carbon is converted to CO2 and released slowly to the atmosphere. Several papers from the wind industry in Denmark and the UK have addressed the first two points with estimates of payback time ranging from about six to 30 months. However, the industry rarely, if ever, considers the last two. This is a fundamental omission as their contribution to the overall CO2 debt, in particular the last, can be far greater than all the others put together. This paper outlines a procedure for quantifying it. The guide has been prepared to enable anyone with access to the Environmental Statement (ES) that forms part of a Planning Application (PA) for a wind farm to estimate its CO2 debt. (If some of the requisite information proves to be unavailable, this ought to provide grounds for postponing consideration of the application and the commissioning of further assessment.) The results of the calculations described should be submitted to planning authorities or Public Inquiries as part of the arguments used in assessing the merits and demerits of an application.
1 Aug 2006

Climate truths get a cold shoulder

Do you ask your barber if you need a haircut? His business depends on cutting hair. The business of climatologists and global warming researchers depends on lots of research dollars being thrown at studying global warming. If there were no perceived problem, there would be no funding. So the first order of their business is to create a problem showing the need to fund even more research.
24 Jul 2006

Wind Energy: An Ineffectual Solution for Reducing Emissions

I respect Mr. Watts’ desire to address emissions. Unfortunately, at least with respect to electricity generation, there is no 'silver bullet'. The only practical solutions, in addition to conservation, are 'safe nuclear' and 'clean coal'. Wind energy has become a 'symbol' in efforts to address emissions from electricity generation. The 'inconvenient truth' is that wind energy is ineffectual.Editor's Note: Submitted to the Burlington Free Press in response to Richard Watts' Op-ed published 7/21/06 which is also below.
21 Jul 2006

Hockey Stick Hokum

It is routine these days to read in newspapers or hear -- almost anywhere the subject of climate change comes up -- that the 1990s were the "warmest decade in a millennium" and that 1998 was the warmest year in the last 1,000. This assertion has become so accepted that it is often recited without qualification, and even without giving a source for the "fact." But a report soon to be released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by three independent statisticians underlines yet again just how shaky this "consensus" view is, and how recent its vintage.
14 Jul 2006

Hurricanes and Global Warming: Is There a Connection?

Furthermore, they note that research on possible future changes in hurricane frequency due to global warming has produced studies that "give such contradictory results as to suggest that the state of understanding of tropical cyclogenesis provides too poor a foundation to base any projections about the future.".....Perhaps of greatest significance of all to the issue of future hurricanes and the destruction they will cause is the nature and degree of human occupation of exposed coastal locations.
24 May 2006

US Oil Majors Seen Lagging in CO2 Risk Management

Exxon spokesman David Gardner said the company believes the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may pose significant risk and that it has reduced greenhouse emissions at plants and refineries. "Our actions on carbon dioxide are widely misunderstood by many," he said in a telephone interview. He said cogeneration, or using waste heat and steam to produce electricity at plants, has reduced greenhouse gases by nine million metric tonnes per year. But Exxon has not set emissions limits and it does not invest in the production of wind and solar power because the company does not believe those technologies are economically viable yet, he said.
22 Mar 2006

Macarthur Wind Farm P/L - Statement of Submission to Planning Panel Hearing by James Lyon

Macartherobjectionpres_thumb The Guidelines require that “In order to facilitate a viable wind energy industry, planning applications need to include sufficient information and explanation to allow responsible authorities to come to sound and timely decisions”. Unfortunately, the application for a planning permit by Macarthur Wind Farm P/L fails to include sufficient information. The panel should therefore recommend that the a permit not be granted, and should ask the proponent to resubmit its application with (i) A full estimate of all economic costs of the proposal, both internal and external. (ii) A soundly based forecast of greenhouse gas abatement outcomes, based on the best available data and an independent, peer reviewed computer modelling of the NEM (iii) A full, project specific, assessment of the energy and greenhouse gas costs of the proposal itself, including all directly and indirectly associated activities.
28 Feb 2006

Draft 2004 New England Marginal Emission Rate Analysis

Marginalemissionrateanalysis_thumb ...the MEA Report can be used to estimate the value (avoided emissions) of Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) by providing both REC suppliers and stakeholders with information that can be used to communicate the environmental benefits of RECs and works to enhance the overall REC marketplace. Editor's Note: As noted below under Methodology [emphasis added], this report appears to substantiate the point that wind energy would not backdown "baseload" generation.
28 Feb 2006

Off with all their heads

In reality, nobody has a fog what will happen. This is Virtualia, not the UK. During the last year, global warming has been predicted to lead to wetter winters, drier winters, another ice age, blazing-hot Mediterranean summers killing thousands, greater biodiversity and less biodiversity
2 Dec 2005
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