Carbon calculator for wind farms on Scottish peatlands: factsheet

Information on the carbon calculator we developed for determining the carbon impact of wind farm developments in Scotland.

Access the carbon calculator tool

Background to the tool

The carbon calculator is our tool to support the process of determining wind farm developments in Scotland. The tool's purpose is to assess, in a comprehensive and consistent way, the carbon impact of wind farm developments. This is done by comparing the carbon costs of wind farm developments with the carbon savings attributable to the wind farm. The tool and supporting guidance material remain the property of the Scottish Government.

The online carbon calculator

This latest version of the carbon calculator is a web-based application and central database, where all the data entered in the carbon calculator is stored in a structured manner. This web-based tool replaces all earlier versions of the Excel-based carbon calculator. We commissioned it in response to feedback from stakeholders concerning previous versions of the tool, under the guidance of a steering group with membership including Scottish Government, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Forestry Research. Stakeholder engagement and feedback via workshops, in the final stages of the tool’s development, helped to further inform the final design. Any queries regarding its use and functionality should be directed in the first instance to the Energy Consents Unit.

The web tool incorporates high-level automated checking, detailed user guidance (within the tool), cells for identification of data sources and relevant data calculations and modifications required to the calculation method, at this time.

The improved ease of use will reduce the burden on developers as a consequence of the increased user-friendliness and the more sophisticated entry checking and guidance. The expectation is that this will reduce the number of resubmissions. The improved quality of submissions will reduce the validation work required. It will allow developers to submit carbon assessments and conduct initial carbon assessment screening tests on their proposed developments online in a self-service manner. It will allow an aggregated picture to be made of assessments (initial applications and re-applications) across Scotland.

Development of the carbon calculator

Originally published in 2008 with research report, Calculating carbon savings from wind farms on Scottish peat lands: a new approach (Nayak et al, 2008), the calculator has been refined on the basis of feedback and further research (Nayak et al., 2010 and Smith et al., 2011) to be an even more effective tool. Version 2 of the calculator launched in June 2011. The calculator was subsequently revised to include multiple regions for forestry and construction. The last version of the Excel spreadsheet tool was 2.9.0.

Deployment and protocols for use

The web-based version of the carbon calculator has been available since 29 June 2016 to support the carbon assessment of wind farm developments. The initial release was referenced as C-CalcWebV1.0 and will continue to be referred to as the ‘carbon calculator’. This web–based version of the carbon calculator superseded all previous Excel based versions of the tool, and should be used for all appropriate applications which previously would have used the Excel based tool.  Any major updates and revisions of the tool (V2.0, V3.0 etc)  will be undertaken on an annual basis, with only absolutely necessary interim ‘minor’ patches (V1.1, V1.2 etc) being undertaken otherwise.

All new applications to the Energy Consents Unit should use the web-based tool or may be subject to rejection. All applications submitted and received using the carbon calculator may be subject to audit by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.  This is to ensure, as far as possible, that the carbon calculator continues to be used appropriately. If an audit highlights any issues, these will be raised with the applicant by SEPA such that they may be addressed.

The web-based version of the carbon calculator provides significant enhancements over the previous Excel tool, including some automatic validation of data entry. However, an Excel based tool is also being maintained for the purposes of development of new functionality, testing and trialling. This can be made available upon request. However, it must be recognised that this may not replicate exactly the functionality and results of the web based tool and its use and any decisions based thereon will be at the users own discretion.

We have produced technical guidance for using the carbon calculator.

Further peat guidance

SEPA and Scottish Renewables have produced guidance on the assessment of peat volumes, the reuse of excavated peat, and the minimisation of waste, which was published in February 2014.

The guidance on peatland site surveys was updated in April 2017.



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