ASA judgment

Complaint against a leaflet produced by group opposing wind farm, Two Moors Campaign. Somewhat confusing adjudication because in this case, someone has made a complaint against a group opposing a wind farm. In this context, "not upheld" means the claim by the group opposing the windfarm has been justified. The key point in adjudication 4. is that when stating carbon reduction from wind, a grid-mix value of 0.43 is the correct displacement value. Read full Advertising Standards Authority judgment.

4. Not upheld The Two Moors Campaign said the figure of 0.86 tonnes of CO2 per MWh (megawatt hour) was based on the assumption that wind energy would displace coal generation. They pointed out that the DTI and DEFRA acknowledged it was unlikely that coal displacement would occur over the lifetime of a wind turbine. They said the DTI and DEFRA recommended the use of a "grid average displacement" factor to calculate current CO2 savings from wind energy, which was 0.43 tonnes per MWh. They argued that it was more likely that, over the course of its lifetime, a wind turbine would displace gas and not coal. They sent a government statement that said 10% of supply from renewable energy in 2010 would save approximately 2.5 million tonnes of carbon per year if the equivalent amount of energy were generated from gas. They explained that the government target for 2010 equated to 33.6 TWh (terawatt hours) of energy. They calculated that 2.5 million tonnes of carbon converted to 9.2 million tonnes of CO2 and divided that figure by 33.6 TWh, which gave an implied emissions factor of 0.27 tonnes CO2 per MWh.

We noted the information and calculations provided by the Two Moors Campaign. We noted that the claim was preceded by text that stated "the results could be worse. Many experts expect wind to run in partnership with gas generation in the future, which doesn't emit much CO2". We considered it was clear from the text that the emissions factor of 0.27 tonnes was a projected figure for one possible profile of the UK's future fuel generating mix. We considered that, although the DTI and DEFRA recommended a "grid average displacement" factor to calculate current CO2 savings, it was reasonable for the Two Moors Campaign to use the government's implied emission factor of 0.27 tonnes to project future CO2 savings in the context of a speculative claim about a partnership between wind and gas generation. We concluded that the Two Moors Campaign had substantiated their claim.

On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness), but did not find it in breach.