Wind farms have made a significant impact in limiting carbon emissions from other sources of power generation in Great Britain.
According to a study published in Energy Policy, power from wind farms prevented the creation of almost 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as coal and gas. The figures from 2008-2014, analysed in the most accurate study of its kind to date, suggest that a greater investment in wind energy could help meet targets for carbon emissions reduction.
Engineers from the University of Edinburgh analysed National Grid figures for the power generated by various sources including wind, coal and gas. Their data detailed generator energy output figures for every half hour, creating a comprehensive picture of how demand over time was met by power from the various sources.
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.
Engineers say their methodology could be applied to give accurate estimates of possible future emissions savings for energy developers, planners and policymakers. They suggest wind power generation could play an increasingly important role in the future energy mix, which could also include carbon capture and storage, marine and nuclear power.