Thousands of Britain’s wind turbines will create more greenhouse gases than they save,
The finding, which threatens the entire rationale of the onshore wind farm industry, will be made by Scottish government-funded researchers who devised the standard method used by developers to calculate “carbon payback time” for wind farms on peat soils.
Wind farms are typically built on upland sites, where peat soil is common. In Scotland alone, two thirds of all planned onshore wind development is on peatland. England and Wales also have large numbers of current or proposed peatland wind farms.
But peat is also a massive store of carbon, described as Europe’s equivalent of the tropical rainforest. Peat bogs contain and absorb carbon in the same way as trees and plants — but in much higher quantities.
British peatland stores at least 3.2?billion tons of carbon, making it by far the country’s most important carbon sink and among the most important in the world.
Wind farms, and the miles of new roads and tracks needed to service them, damage or destroy the peat and cause significant loss of carbon to the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change.
Which leads us to the concept of carbon payback time. Sure, there\’s going to be emissions in making the towers and the concrete to plant them in and the soil ripped up to drive roads through. And this is just inevitable: using either steel or aluminium in the towers themselves means carbon emissions. Yes, even if you use electric power in the smelters. For you have to use carbon for the chemical reaction in both cases, not just power. And so on for ripping up soil etc.
And with these new peat numbers we find that the payback time is longer than the lifetime of the actual windmills. Thus the installation and running of them increases, rather than diminishes, CO2 emissions.