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Sun Feb 24, 2013, 06:18 PM

Peat bogs threatened by windfarms?

Anybody have an independent take on this assertation?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9889882/Wind-farms-will-create-more-carbon-dioxide-say-scientists.html
Wind farms, and the miles of new roads and tracks needed to service them, damage or destroy the peat and cause significant loss of carbon to the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change.

Writing in the scientific journal Nature, the scientists, Dr Jo Smith, Dr Dali Nayak and Prof Pete Smith, of Aberdeen University, say: “We contend that wind farms on peatlands will probably not reduce emissions …we suggest that the construction of wind farms on non-degraded peats should always be avoided.”


I did know that peat bogs are important environmentally - as are all wetlands. I hadn't realized that wind farms would threaten them?

11 replies, 1338 views

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Peat bogs threatened by windfarms? (Original post)
Yo_Mama Feb 2013 OP
Arctic Dave Feb 2013 #1
Yo_Mama Feb 2013 #5
GliderGuider Feb 2013 #2
Yo_Mama Feb 2013 #3
dbackjon Feb 2013 #4
GliderGuider Feb 2013 #6
Yo_Mama Feb 2013 #7
GliderGuider Feb 2013 #8
kristopher Feb 2013 #9
Yo_Mama Feb 2013 #10
kristopher Feb 2013 #11

Response to Yo_Mama (Original post)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 07:11 PM

1. And burning the peat is better?

 

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Response to Arctic Dave (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:03 PM

5. Well, it is not either/or

And in fact if the assertion is true - that access and infrastructure will damage large tracts of peat bogs - then harvesting a much smaller amount of the peat for energy might in fact be far less emissions in the end. The article did say that there wasn't a problem with siting wind turbines in already-degraded peat.

But part of my doubt is that I know it's been terribly wet over there, and the basic problem claimed is that the bogs will dry out because roads will cut off water flow.

If that is true, it is very serious. One of the ways in which the carbon is released is that lightning strikes ignite the dried-out peat, and the fires can be huge and longlasting.

In GA we have wetlands, and wet-dry cycles. During a dry cycle, what happens is that maybe the top two-three feet dry out. Then you can get fires that last for years. The fire digs down into the vegetation and smolders, so even heavy rains just damp it. Then comes some wind after a few dry weeks, and it's off and running again.

Near Tifton there was one that burned for about 10 years.

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Response to Yo_Mama (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 10:08 AM

2. Peat is organic material, and sequesters very large amounts of carbon.

The peat doesn't need to be burned to release its carbon. Disturbing it by building roads, tower foundations, power lines, maintenance buildings etc. releases the stored carbon through oxidation by contact with the air, even if the peat is not burned. Siting a wind farm on a peat bog raises the life cycle carbon emissions of the electricity.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:54 AM

3. Seriously?

Your position is that it raises the net carbon emissions?

I just don't know enough about this to have an angle on it. On the one hand, I do get that building roads and access can disturb vastly larger tracts than the actual wind turbine sites, so I can see that if doing so causes damage, it could be true.

But are there virgin peat bogs without roads etc that will be disturbed?

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Response to Yo_Mama (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:56 AM

4. Apparantly so

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Response to Yo_Mama (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:17 PM

6. Yes.

However, I don't know how major the effect is. Peat bogs are a common feature of arctic tundra, which is why the arctic warming and melting permafrost is such a concern - it exposes the peat to aoxygen and higher temperatures, releasing CO2 and methane in the process. Peat bogs have a lot in common with fully thawed tundra. It would probably be an exercise in poor judgment to mess with them.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #6)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:21 PM

7. Well, perhaps it is time for some environmental studies

Before this turns into another well-intentioned disaster.

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Response to Yo_Mama (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:51 PM

8. It's always better to figure out the risks before you do something

Than to discover what they were afterwards.

Unfortunately, the fundamental importance of energy to everything we do causes us to take energy-related risks that would seem absurd in other areas of life.

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Response to Yo_Mama (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:14 PM

9. Your "concern" for any potential downside of renewables is touching...

There is, in fact, quite of lot of that type of "concern" in the media since ALEC initiated their campaign.

Calculating carbon savings from wind farms on Scottish peat lands - A New Approach
Description A New Approach has been developed to calculate the impact of wind farm developments on the soil carbon stocks held in peats. This provides a transparent and easy to follow method for estimating the impacts of wind farms on the carbon dynamics of peat lands.

Official Print Publication Date June 2008
Website Publication Date June 27, 2008

9. Conclusions
Large scale wind farm development proposals in Scotland have raised concerns about the reliability of methods used to calculate the C savings associated with wind farms, as compared to power derived from fossil-fuel and other more conventional sources of power generation. This is largely due to the siting of wind farms on peat lands as opposed to mineral soils. Government policy is to deliver renewable energy without significant environmental harm and to deliver biodiversity objectives, including the conservation of designated wildlife sites and important habitats such as peat lands. The implications for C emissions of developing a wind farm are therefore just one set of considerations which the Electricity Act and planning system takes into account.

This report provides a method to explore potential C emission losses and savings associated with a wind farm development on peat land.

The total C emission savings from a wind farm are estimated with respect to emissions from different power generating sources, loss of C due to production, transportation, erection, operation and dismantling of the wind farm, loss of C from backup power generation, loss of C-fixing potential of peat land, loss of C stored in peat land (by peat removal and by drainage of the site), C saving due to restoration of habitat and loss of C-fixing potential as a result of forest felling. Different components of this can be estimated to compare with other sources of energy where a complete life cycle analysis is not applicable.

The primary output delivered here is the provision of a tool to determine the fate of carbon stored in peat in response to a wind farm development during its installation, operational life and restoration of the site after the wind farm ceases to operate


http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/06/25114657/0

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Response to kristopher (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:24 PM

10. The article is not about site losses

But about the wider losses associated with degradation of a much wider area of peat, which would occur largely because of building access roads through larger areas, which would supposedly stop the flow of water.

Site losses HAVE to be minor. They just have to be. Wind farms and turbines don't have a large footprint.

But the original article is discussing something much different. It's just that I don't know if it's real or not.

I know we in GA do lay all roads/paths on top of, rather than on the surface of, the wetland. But questions that came to my mind when I read this is that the effect they are discussing cannot be real if there are already roads, and aren't there? I am not familiar with the geography.

Another possibility would be a different type of road construction. That might be expensive, but perhaps you could intersperse piling segments (don't stop water flow) with the overlay segments.

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Response to Yo_Mama (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:53 PM

11. Like I wrote...

The total C emission savings from a wind farm are estimated with respect to emissions from different power generating sources, loss of C due to production, transportation, erection, operation and dismantling of the wind farm, loss of C from backup power generation, loss of C-fixing potential of peat land, loss of C stored in peat land (by peat removal and by drainage of the site), C saving due to restoration of habitat and loss of C-fixing potential as a result of forest felling. Different components of this can be estimated to compare with other sources of energy where a complete life cycle analysis is not applicable.


I think they've figured out that the wind farm is the operable unit. Thank you again for highlighting the messaging campaign of ALEC and their international brethren.

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