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Calculating carbon savings from wind farms on Scottish peat lands - A New Approach

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9. Conclusions

Large scale wind farm development proposals in Scotland have raised concerns about the reliability of methods used to calculate the C savings associated with wind farms, as compared to power derived from fossil-fuel and other more conventional sources of power generation. This is largely due to the siting of wind farms on peat lands as opposed to mineral soils. Government policy is to deliver renewable energy without significant environmental harm and to deliver biodiversity objectives, including the conservation of designated wildlife sites and important habitats such as peat lands. The implications for C emissions of developing a wind farm are therefore just one set of considerations which the Electricity Act and planning system takes into account.

This report provides a method to explore potential C emission losses and savings associated with a wind farm development on peat land.

The total C emission savings from a wind farm are estimated with respect to emissions from different power generating sources, loss of C due to production, transportation, erection, operation and dismantling of the wind farm, loss of C from backup power generation, loss of C-fixing potential of peat land, loss of C stored in peat land (by peat removal and by drainage of the site), C saving due to restoration of habitat and loss of C-fixing potential as a result of forest felling. Different components of this can be estimated to compare with other sources of energy where a complete life cycle analysis is not applicable.

The primary output delivered here is the provision of a tool to determine the fate of carbon stored in peat in response to a wind farm development during its installation, operational life and restoration of the site after the wind farm ceases to operate