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Windfarms threaten peat bogs and turn them into carbon emitters

Posted By Jo Nova On August 6, 2020 @ 4:33 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

More ironies.  One fifth of all soil carbon is stored in peat bogs.  Unfortunately when industrial wind turbines are built on them, the damage turns them from carbon sinks to carbon sources thus neutralizing the point of building the wind farm.

The headline evokes some supernatural power:

Wind farms built on carbon-rich peat bogs lose their ability to fight climate change

As if the magical whirly totem stick loses the gift of weather control when placed on a peat bog?

But the real damage is not just to wallets for another pointless windfarm. Peat bogs are so much more than carbon sinks — they are also an archive of paleohistory and the  ancient climate. Indeed, even though cattle, wind and rain can damage the bogs, the researchers now say the wind farms now pose the “most serious risk” of all. Apparently the vehicle access tracks create artificial streams that drain the peat. The drainage changes are pervasive and “affect the whole peatland” not just the part near the track.

The “blanket bogs” are rare, but occur from Spain to Norway in Europe as well as in Canada, New Zealand and Korea.

The paper is a thinly disguised plea from bog experts to save the peat wilderness from industrial development. Sadly, they seem to think the headline “carbon emissions” will attract more help than the intrinsic scientific and biological value of the peat, which says something very screwed up about environmentalists.

Wind farms, on peat bogs.

Wind farms damage peat bogs.

Wind farms built on carbon-rich peat bogs lose their ability to fight climate change

Guaduneth Chico, Ben Clutterbuck, Nicholas Midgley, The Conversation

In our recent study, we found that wind farms in Spain are being built on rare peat bogs that store vast quantities of planet-warming carbon. Because these habitats are so poorly mapped, there’s a good chance that this mistake is being replicated in many other places throughout Europe, including the UK.

Peatlands are a natural carbon sink and, despite covering less than 3% of the Earth’s land surface, they contain 20% of all the carbon stored in soils worldwide.

Although peat is naturally eroded by wind, rain and ice, blanket bogs grazed by livestock can lose four to six times more carbon than protected bogs. But the most serious risk to these habitats today is wind farms. Unprotected blanket bogs often cover mountain peaks, where there is also great potential for generating wind energy. During wind farm construction, vegetation that helps to trap the carbon is removed to create turbine bases and vehicle access tracks. These tracks create artificial streams that drain the peat and reshape the terrain.

This release can be so significant that the climate benefit of generating clean energy is likely to be neutralised.


Chico et al (2020) Geo‐hydromorphological assessment of Europe’s southernmost blanket bogs, https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4927

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