Wind Power

Energy and Climate Change written question – answered on 4th March 2014.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Conservative, Eddisbury

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the net emissions reductions resulting from (a) onshore and (b) offshore wind has been in the last three years; and what such figures are including in the carbon footprint of (i) construction, (ii) backup technologies and (iii) connection to the grid of such turbines.

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills , Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Minister of State for Portsmouth

The following table gives emissions reductions (million tonnes of carbon dioxide avoided) from onshore and offshore wind in 2010 to 2012. Data for 2013 are not yet available—provisional figures for 2013 will be available on 31 July 2014.

  Onshore wind Offshore wind
2010 4.2 1.8
2011 6.4 3.1
2012 8.5 5.2

This is calculated as generation from onshore and offshore wind, multiplied by carbon dioxide emissions per GWh of electricity supplied from all fossil fuels. As with the data gathered for all power generation technology, it does not include emissions from construction or grid connection.

Onshore wind power has a very small carbon footprint range relative to other energy generation technologies: between 8 and 20g CO2eq/kWh, taking into account emissions incurred during the manufacture, construction and decommissioning phases. The average emissions from fossil-fuelled power generation in the UK is around 700gCO2/kWh.

Back-up generation—including generation from gas, coal or biomass—is sometimes required to balance intermittent renewable generators as well as to cover demand spikes and other station outage. DECC has not estimated the gas turbine energy contribution (and therefore related CO2 emissions) to manage wind variability specifically, due to complex inter-dependencies of the power system operational parameters.1

1 Estimates of wind generation and CCGT emissions are taken from scenarios modelled for the Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan. Please see:

A range is given based on the range of generation estimates for onshore and offshore wind in the modelled scenarios. Estimates for onshore wind include both large and small scale.


1. Onshore and offshore wind generation, from table DUKES 6.4, available at:

2. Carbon dioxide emissions (tonnes per GWh) for fossil fuel mix, from table DUKES 5C, at:

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