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ODA turbine decision - a wind of change?

Gareth Roberts of Sturgis Associates discusses the ODA’s decision to scrap its 130m-tall Olympic Park wind turbine

The move to “ditch” the Olympic wind turbine should be welcomed by the environmental community, as it may at long last reflect the change in the industry from symbolic tokenism to more deep rooted analytical approach to deliver carbon reductions.

Our work at Sturgis has been focusing of measuring carbon emissions for the past 4 years and at present we defiantly feel a wind of change (forgive the pun) in response to better information and a more developed understanding of the linkages between: embodied, operational emissions and the effects of time.

The wind turbine is a great symbol of the sometimes miss appropriation of a environmental resource which may actually do more harm than good.

Recent research we have carried out for the RICS’s latest publication “redefining zero” explains how these situations may occur.

Our insight is simple in that to decide if a measure is worth carrying out, one first needs to reveal the carbon emissions generated to make something in the first pace and consider this against the benefits of carbon reductions achieved over a measures lifespan.

Although for most wind turbines this may not be an issue, in some urban locations wind turbines may actually on net cause environmental damage.

In addition to this issue there are growing calls for measures to be rated by “value for money”. Over the next few years as more legislation is being introduced, the costs of compliance to reduce CO2 emissions are set to rocket, by 2019 estimates set the cost of compliance at over £2.7 Billion per year for commercial property alone.

On this basis wind turbines and solar panels on the micro scale of generation should also be seriously questioned.

Looking at the basic facts: the costs to achieve a 60Tonne of CO2 reduction would be £840,000 for x36 vertical axis wind turbines, in comparison to £140,000 to achieve the same reduction using Bio-fuel boilers.

Put another way you can save six times as much carbon per pound spent, by the use of biomass boilers in comparisons to small scale urban wind turbines. Our work helps clients make these choices through quantifying the whole carbon picture through a technique we have developed: Carbon Profiling.

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