According to a new report from the American Wind Energy Association, U.S. wind farms reduced electric power carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 132 million metric tons in 2015. In addition, wind energy reduces other harmful air pollutants including smog-causing sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which helps reduce rates of asthma and other respiratory issues. Electricity generated by wind in 2015 displaced an estimated 176,000 metric tons of SO2 and 106,000 metric tons of NOx, representing $7.3 billion in avoided health costs last year.
“Americans will be able to breathe easier and live longer thanks to clean energy produced by American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Clean air benefits from wind power totaled $7.3 billion last year, without even including the value of carbon savings, and the industry also attracts thousands of quality jobs and billions of dollars in private investment to the U.S. economy. With wind power, states don’t have to make a trade-off between clean air and strong economic growth.”
Based on costs assumptions provided by the Harvard School of Public Health study, the tons of SO2 and NOx pollution avoided in 2015 carry a public health monetary value of more than $5.4 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively. At the start of 2016, there were 9,400 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity under construction, which is expected to reduce another 23 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year when operational, and cut overall power sector CO2 emissions by an additional one percent.
The 132 million metric tons in CO2 reductions in 2015 are equivalent to eliminating all power sector carbon dioxide emissions in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado last year.
This data is an early look at AWEA’s 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report. The report will provide a comprehensive update on the state of the U.S. wind market, job numbers, state-by-state comparisons, and more.