BENEFITS OF WIND ENERGY
The wind cools us on a summer day, moves our sailboats, flies our kites and helps grow our gardens. It can also enhance our world’s security, help protect its beauty and improve the quality of air we breathe when used to power our homes and businesses.
Wind energy is clean. Electricity generated by wind turbines won’t dirty the air we breathe or emit pollutants like other energy sources—that means less smog, less acid rain and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Power plants are the largest stationary source of air pollution in the United States, emitting millions of tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides and carbon dioxide each year. These pollutants are believed to be the cause of global warming. Running a single 1-MW wind turbine can displace 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide in one year (equivalent to planting one square mile of forest).
Wind energy is cost competitive to other fuel sources (like natural gas) and it is the least expensive of all renewable energy sources. Because the fuel (wind) is free, wind energy can provide a stable long-term price for power production. The cost of electricity generated by modern wind farms has declined 80% since 1980 (from about 38 cents per kilowatt hour to about 4 cents). Today's wind farms can generate electricity for less than 5 cents per kilowatt hour in many parts of the U.S., a price that is competitive with new coal- or gas-fired power plants. The cost is expected to continue to decline as the technology improves and the market for this source develops.
Wind energy is growing fast. It has been the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source for more than a decade with an average annual growth rate of over 20%. Wind energy in the United States could provide as much as 40% of our electricity, but the nation generates less than 1% of its electricity with the wind with more than 6,740 MW of wind energy capacity installed in the U.S., wind power now serves more than 1.6 million average U.S. households (still a fraction of what it could be providing). Installed capacity worldwide is almost 46,500 MW, or enough to serve more than 10 million U.S. households.
Wind energy is renewable. As one of Mother Nature’s gifts, the wind is available and plentiful and won’t deplete our world’s natural resources.
Wind energy benefits society. Because it is a clean energy source, wind energy reduces costs associated with air pollution—both healthcare and environmental costs. And, its low operating costs and short construction lead times mean it can provide low cost, clean energy quicker and more conveniently than traditional power plants.
Wind energy is local. Wind projects keep more energy dollars in the communities where projects are located and provide a steady income through lease payments to the landowners. Wind projects also pay significant property taxes and state taxes each year and create local jobs. Unlike oil, the wind is not affected by international conflicts or embargoes, making it immune to supply problems or price shocks.
Wind energy is reliable and efficient. Unlike other power plants, wind energy systems require minimal maintenance and have low operating expenses. Wind turbines are very reliable and are available to generate electricity 99% of the time (on par with other generating sources).
– Adapted from information provided by the American Wind Energy Association and Renewable Energy Vermont.