Breaking News: Dog Bites Man, Pope Catholic, Wind Energy Saves Carbon
October 18, 2013
Paul Brown for Climate News Network:
Contrary to claims by critics of wind power, Spanish researchers say, the turbines do reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly even though the wind does not blow constantly.
LONDON, 18 October – One of the most often repeated arguments of the anti-wind lobby is that the turbines produce electricity only intermittently, when there is enough wind to turn them.
This, the critics argue, means that so much gas has to be burnt to provide a reliable supply of electricity that there is no overall benefit to the environment.
But extensive research in Spain means this claim can now definitively be declared a myth. Wind, the researchers found, is a very efficient way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
A study of 87 of the country’s coal and gas plants and how they were run alongside Spain’s very large wind industry found that adjustments made to the fossil fuel plants to compensate for variable wind strengths made little difference to their C02 emissions.
The anti-wind campaigners claim that fossil fuel plants have to be kept running at a slow speed, all the time producing CO2, just in case the wind fails. At slow speeds these plants are less efficient and so produce so much CO2 – the opponents of wind say – that they wipe out any gains from having wind power.
But a report published in the journal Energy by researchers at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid says this is simply not true. There are some small losses, the researchers say, but even if wind produced as much as 50% of Spain’s electricity the CO2 savings would still be 80% of the emissions that would have been produced by the displaced thermal power stations.
At lower penetrations, particularly when the number of wind turbines was small, each megawatt hour produced by wind replaced 100% of the CO2 that would have been produced by each displaced thermal megawatt