I write to offer some clarification on the carbon life cycle of wind farms (in response to Letters, 7 May). We know that as with any industrial development, building a wind farm has an associated carbon impact through manufacturing, transportation and construction.
The Scottish Government has developed a Carbon Calculator, using a full life cycle methodology, which allows us to assess how long such a development will take to “pay back” the carbon created during the construction process, and calculate for how long the wind farm will operate making direct carbon savings during its expected lifetime (which is more than 20 years).
The average payback time for a wind farm is estimated to be between three and ten months, while over its lifetime a wind farm is also expected to generate at least 20 to 25 times the energy used in its manufacture, operation and eventual decommissioning.
With respect to overall carbon dioxide emissions, it is estimated by the UK government that in 2011 renewable electricity generation in Scotland displaced more than 8.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to more than 15 per cent of Scotland’s total carbon emissions.
Onshore wind farms make up the largest percentage of this renewable generation and contribute significantly to meeting the challenges of tackling climate change, the greatest threat to our natural environment.