Monday, 11 August 2008

Small wind turbines "net emitters of carbon" says The Carbon Trust

According to a recent paper by The Carbon Trust, most urban small-scale wind turbine are net emitters of carbon. The report, entitled Small-scale wind energy is based on research carried out with the assistance of the Met Office and consulting engineers Arup. It claims that the most commonly used UK windspeed database is highly optimistic in the case of urban areas and suggests that one should be wary of believing any figures offered by the wind-turbine industry.

The report's projections suggest that the potential contribution to a household's energy consumption that could be achieved with a turbine is so low that electricity prices would have to rise eight-fold before it became even remotely viable financially. Worse, over 50 per cent of installations have a carbon payback period of more than 20 years, which is beyond the expected life of most turbines.

Despite this damning evidence, the UK government is still prepared to give grants or tax breaks for a roof turbine. The Low Carbon Buildings Programme, Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) for domestic installations and the Code for Sustainable Homes. all encourage the adoption of small-scale wind energy. Perhaps in future such schemes should require actual carbon saving projections to be taken into account.

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