Turbine Talk – What will the Carbon Savings from the wind farms be?

One of our key priorities for developing these projects is to help create a carbon neutral future for our islands.

Orkney Islands Council is committed to reducing our carbon footprint by supporting the pioneering renewables scene in Orkney.

Unfortunately, no form of electricity generation is completely carbon free. The manufacture of turbines, the construction of the wind farms and transport of materials will all produce carbon.

However, once the wind farms are in operation, they would deliver carbon-free electricity and displace carbon emissions which would otherwise result from energy generation by fossil fuels.

As part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) we were able to determine what the carbon payback period would be for each site.

The ‘carbon payback period’ is an estimate of how long it will take a wind farm to offset the greenhouse gases emitted as a result of its construction. After this period, each wind farm will begin displacing grid-based electricity generated from non-renewable sources which is the ‘carbon savings’.

One of the questions we’ve been asked as part of our public engagement discussions is how long the carbon payback period will be for each site.

For Quanterness and Faray, this would be around three months. You can read how this is calculated in the EIA’s non-technical summary located here.

For Hoy, the carbon payback period will range from between 11 months to 23 months. The reason for this is because the wind farm will be sited on land with peat, and peat has the potential to release carbon into the atmosphere in the form of CO2 if it is disturbed.

The calculation for Hoy was determined by using the Scottish Government’s Carbon Calculator for Wind Farms on Peat Lands. You can read more about how this was calculated in the EIA’s non-technical summary located here.

The design of the wind farm was developed to reduce the infrastructure that will be installed on deep peat areas. A Peat Management Plan will be in place before construction begins which will include details of peat excavation, storage and a peat restoration plan.