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UK Wind Power Claims Cut In Half

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Wind turbines in the UK may have suddenly become less environmentally friendly according to a new formula used to calculate carbon offset figures. The Telegraph reported today that the British Wind Energy Association, an industry trade group, has cut its CO2 reduction calculations in half after talks with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, which enforces rules on claims in advertisements.

The British Wind Energy Association has set the new baseline number it uses to calculate the amount of CO2 reductions at 430 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour, down from 860 grams. The BWEA says on its web site that the new figure represents the avoided carbon emissions from a mix of traditional power plants in the UK, including coal- and gas-fired plants.

The Telegraph said that experts had previously calculated that the UK would need 50,000 wind turbines to help reach a government target of saving 200 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by 2020. The country could now need 100,000 turbines to meet that target. It currently has just under 2,400 turbines.

The move to the much lower number started last October, when the advertising regulatory agency ruled on a complaint against npower, a unit of Germany’s RWE. The agency found that while npower’s claims of CO2 reduction at the proposed Batsworthy Cross wind farm were based on an established figure 860 grams of CO2 per KWh the agency said the figure was “no longer representative of the UK electricity generating mix.”

Nick Medic, a spokesman for the BWEA, told the Telegraph that wind farms are still eliminating emissions. “The fact is that fossil fuel burning power stations belch out CO2 and wind farms don’t. That has not changed.”

The UK wind industry has faced several setbacks this year, with investors pulling out of major wind project proposals to focus on the more lucrative North American markets.