No credible evidence

Regarding spin and distortion (Erik Smith’s letter, 21st February), I quote from Viking Energy’s addendum:

“Overall over the lifetime of the windfarm the total carbon loss due to existing peat erosion would be in the order of 6.4-25 Megatonnes [carbon dioxide].

“Even without the development the eroded peat across the development site will be a significant carbon emitter over the next 25 years, as high as major industrial sources on the [sic] Shetland.

“Sullom Voe Oil Terminal annual emissions: 260,000 tonnes [carbon dioxide] equivalent.”

Multiplying the latter by 25, the windfarm lifetime, gives 6.5 Megatonnes.

When I queried these figures with Dr Richard Birnie, who advised Viking Energy on rates of erosion of bare peat, he wrote to me: “You make the point that these estimates appear to have been based on the assumption that the whole area is bare peat. This is a fair observation and I have checked it with the relevant Viking Energy consultant and he has confirmed that this is the case.

“As a result he has recalculated the estimate based on the assumption that 10 per cent of the area is eroded. I consider this to be a reasonable first approximation. This has reduced the estimates of current emissions from the peat by a factor of 10.”

That it is to say, the emissions would be 0.64-2.5Mt, or to put it another way, reduced by 5.76-22.5 million tonnes.

The addendum has, so far as I know, not been amended to include these recalculations, so the impression given to the public, the government and its agencies, is that the peat moor is in far worse condition than it actually is.

Viking Energy and the wind farm supporters continue to assert that the windfarm site is a net carbon emitter, with no credible scientific evidence to back this up.

James Mackenzie
The Lea,


Add Your Comment
  • Erik J Smith

    • February 23rd, 2011 15:50

    Err, James I think you are forgetting something.

    The total SVT throughput of oil as of 2010 is 7,697,694,000 tonnes. (Shetland in statistics, 2010)

    Every tonne burnt = 2 tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

    That means SVT is responsible for 15,395,388,000 tonnes of CO2 just from the oil.

    That’s 15.3 GIGA tonnes.

    And I haven’t even counted the gas!

  • James Mackenzie

    • February 25th, 2011 10:55

    Thank you Erik but I think you’re missing the point.

    The SVT emission figure in my letter was quoted from the Addendum, which is VE’s responsibility.

    Presumably it refers to the on-site emissions of one of Shetland’s “major industrial sources”, rather than to throughput of oil and gas.

    The point is that this figure is compared in the Addendum – relatively favourably – with the assumed carbon emissions from approximately 13,000 hectares of blanket bog.


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