American wind power: Leading the way to a cleaner future

22 July 2013 by Kevin O'Rourke Kevin O'Rourke

Americans take pride in our nation’s ability to continually produce technological innovations that improve our living standards.

That’s probably why polls consistently demonstrate that Americans want more investment in clean energy technologies. We all know that “cleaning” our energy production keeps our country economically competitive, and protects our local communities from pollution.

As a result, it’s no surprise that all energy industries have tried to lay claim to the “clean” label. While most can take credit for making significant strides in reducing their health and environmental impacts, clearly all sources are not equal.

Our best science consistently demonstrates that greenhouse gas emissions from our energy usage pose the largest environmental threat to both humans and wildlife. Of course, once built, wind energy provides an emissions-free source of electricity. But the most widely accepted measure of determining the impact of energy production is tracking the “lifecycle,” or “cradle-to-grave,” environmental impacts.

To definitively determine which energy production method has the least lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, the National Renewable Energy Lab recently completed a comprehensive review of all the literature on the topic. The results were clear: wind energy‘s lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are a few percent of those of fossil fuels, lower than nuclear, and even lower than nearly all other renewable energy resources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, by typically offsetting energy production from the most expensive, least efficient energy source on the utility grid--usually a fossil fuel source--wind power reduces other harmful air pollutants such as mercury and the precursors to smog and acid rain.

Even better, wind energy also has by far the lowest impact on wildlife and their habitats when compared to traditional energy sources, according to an exhaustive cradle-to-grave analysis conducted on behalf of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. And since there is no need to use water to generate electricity from wind, wind power helps the arid regions of our country conserve their water supplies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean is a popular label for good reason. But as the facts show, wind power can deservedly stake its claim as the most readily-scalable source of clean energy available today. And by reducing pollution, lowering consumer energy costs, and revitalizing American manufacturing, wind power is truly clean, affordable, and homegrown.

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