Marginal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Displacement of Wind Power in Great Britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There is considerable uncertainty over the effect of wind power on the operation of power systems, and the consequent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions displacement; this is used to project emissions reductions that inform energy policy. Currently, it is approximated as the average emissions of the whole system, despite an acknowledgement that wind will actually displace only the generators operating on the margin. This article presents a methodology to isolate the marginal emissions displacement of wind power from historical empirical data, taking into account the impact on the operating efficiency of coal and CCGT plants. For Great Britain over 2009 to 2014, it was found that marginal emissions displacement has generally been underestimated with, for example, the emissions displacement factor for wind being 21% higher than that the average emissions factor in 2010. The actual displacement depends upon the relative merit of coal and CCGT, with a greater discrepancy between marginal displacement and average emissions during more normal system operation, suggesting that policies to penalise high-carbon generation can increase the effectiveness of wind at reducing GHG emissions. Furthermore, it was also identified that wind power is almost as technically effective as demand-side reductions at decreasing GHG emissions from power generation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201–210
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Policy
Early online date2 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Wind power
  • Electricity
  • Marginal
  • Greenhouse gas


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