Renewed arguments on wind farms

I write to offer clarification on John Milne’s letter calling for an “evidence-based ­approach” to assessing the carbon impact of wind farms in Scotland (Letters, 9 March).

An evidence-based approach is already in existence for wind farm development. Aberdeen University academics designed and built a “carbon calculator”, a full life cycle methodology for calculating carbon savings from wind farm developments. The results from this work are a material consideration for Scottish ministers in determining whether a wind farm gets the go ahead. This specifically includes an assessment of any carbon losses from the development on peatland. The UK Government has estimated that the average carbon payback time for a wind farm is 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, installation, operation and eventual decommissioning. All of this means that every individually assessed wind farm development has helped the renewables ­industry in Scotland displace almost 12 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2013 alone, the equivalent amount emitted by every train, bus and car journey made in ­Scotland.

Joss Blamire

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Senior Policy Manager

Scottish Renewables

Glasgow

An eminently sensible letter from John Milne, who questions the claims of those in the renewables industry and those with vested interests, that the construction of wind turbines reduce CO2 levels. As soon as articles or letters like this appear, ­Scottish Renewables, the propaganda machine for the industry, swing into the attack with skewed data to prove whatever suits their position. I will therefore rush to agree with Mr Milne ­before the ­deluge.

The steel for turbines mostly comes from China, the manufacturing process is in China, Denmark and Germany. They are transported by ship and vehicles, creating lots of “foreign” CO2 which is really ours. There are then new access roads to be built, concrete to lay and, as Mr Milne says, lots of carbon-absorbing healthy peat to be dug out.

Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University produced research that showed the CO2 savings of wind turbines over their lifespan was, in his words, “trifling to zero”. Mr Milne I fear your wish for an Independent Energy Commission free from vested interests will never happen due to Alex ­Salmond’s obsessive fixation with renewables.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road

Linlithgow