|12 December 2016|


Wind farms in the UK are playing a vital role in the fight against climate change, according to a study by one of the world’s leading universities.

A team of engineers from the University of Edinburgh found wind farms had stopped 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over a six year period, 2008-2014, from sources including coal and gas: the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road. And that greater investment in wind energy could help the Scottish and UK governments meet their targets for carbon emissions reduction.

Their study improves on previous estimates because it uses real, rather than estimated, energy output figures and takes into account the inefficiency of individual conventional generators, researchers say. The calculations are complex because energy demand is met from a mix of sources at any one time, and when output from wind turbines increases, a number of different conventional sources may need to decrease their outputs.

The study demonstrates that government estimates for carbon savings underestimated the benefits from wind farms. Over the six year period, 3.4 million more tonnes of greenhouse gases were saved than thought – the equivalent of taking an extra 220,000 cars off the road.

Dr Camilla Thomson, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, who led the study, said: “Until now, the impact of clean energy from wind farms was unclear. Our findings show that wind plays an effective role in curbing emissions that would otherwise be generated from conventional sources, and it has a key role to play in helping to meet Britain’s need for power in future.”

The study, published in Energy Policy, was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.