At 11 grams of carbon dioxide-equivalent per kilowatt-hour (gCO2e/kWh), wind's carbon footprint – the average level of greenhouse gas emissions large wind turbines are responsible for releasing over their lifetimes – is among the smallest of all the energy sources used in the UK.
The Government is committed to increasing the proportion of the UK's energy generated using renewable sources to 15% by 2020. The majority of this new renewable electricity capacity is expected to take the form of wind farms.
Wind energy helps reduce the UK's overall carbon footprint
Generally, when wind farms are generating electricity, the amount of electricity other power stations need to generate in order to meet demand is reduced. At present, it is usually fossil fuel power stations that reduce their output to account for the electricity being generated by wind farms.
This means that as long as fossil fuels maintain a significant presence in the UK's energy mix, each kWh of electricity produced by wind farms will effectively displace a kWh of electricity that would otherwise have been produced by burning fossil fuels.
The UK has over 3,400 wind turbines at over 300 sites, with a combined capacity of over 5.7 million kilowatts (kW) – enough to supply over 3.2 million households. It's estimated that these reduce the UK's CO2 emissions by over 6.4 million tonnes every year by displacing electricity from fossil fuel power stations.