New research on the pros and cons of building wind farms on peat
bogs "threatens the entire rationale of the onshore wind farm
industry", the Sunday Telegraph claims. But a conversation with the
authors suggests the paper's implications are being overspun.
A front page story in the
Sunday Telegraph claimed "potentially devastating
research" about the impact of wind farms on peatlands is only
months away from publication.
The research in question looks at the consequences of building
wind farms on peatland - waterlogged soil that contains large
amounts of carbon. According to Sunday's article, the research
shows "thousands of Britain's wind turbines will create more
greenhouse gases than they save".
Generating electricity using wind power should cut carbon
emissions. But building on carbon-rich peatlands can mean draining
the soil, which releases large amounts of
carbon dioxide. A team from the University of Aberdeen devised
an emissions calculator to find out whether building wind farms
built on peat bogs could negate their emission-cutting
The Sunday Telegraph picked up on the team's
most recent findings, which the scientists announced in a
letter to Nature last year but have not yet published in full.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, the new calculation shows
peatland wind farms cut greenhouse gas emissions less than
A nuanced approach
We spoke with the authors to learn more about the research. They
pointed out that their paper doesn't challenge the idea that
windfarms are low carbon. Dr Jo Smith, lead author on the research,
tells Carbon Brief:
"The Telegraph article was making a
negative statement about onshore windfarms in general. This is not
our view or the message from our paper."