Now here's an interesting mini-point. We all know that wind turbines don't work when the wind isn't blowing, which can be pretty annoying if you want to cook your Christmas dinner and the country is beset by an eery calm. So you need to maintain other methods of generating electricity to step in when the blades aren't turning. Right now, that generally means fossil-fuel generation – gas or coal. You turn it on when the wind isn't blowing, and off when the turbines are making juice. Simple and efficient, eh?
Not quite. Bentek Energy, an energy market analytics and data company in Colorado, points out that you can't just turn a fossil-fuel power station on and off. If you do, you find that the emissions caused by the thermal inefficiencies when you are warming up and cooling down outweigh the reductions in emissions from the wind generators themselves. You would be better to run the coal-fire stations at their efficient level all the time.
So you might think that wind turbines are a good way to reduce carbon emissions. Actually, they are a good way to increase carbon emissions!