New MIT Study: Wind Power Brings Huge Health Benefits

December 7, 2022

New Study from MIT.



Understanding impacts of renewable energy on air quality and associated human exposures is essential for informing future policy. We estimate the impacts of U.S. wind power on air quality and pollution exposure disparities using hourly data from 2011 to 2017 and detailed atmospheric chemistry modeling. Wind power associated with renewable portfolio standards in 2014 resulted in $2.0 billion in health benefits from improved air quality. A total of 29% and 32% of these health benefits accrued to racial/ethnic minority and low-income populations respectively, below a 2021 target by the Biden administration that 40% of the overall benefits of future federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Wind power worsened exposure disparities among racial and income groups in some states but improved them in others. Health benefits could be up to $8.4 billion if displacement of fossil fuel generators prioritized those with higher health damages. However, strategies that maximize total health benefits would not mitigate pollution disparities, suggesting that more targeted measures are needed.

Wind power provides climate, air quality, and health benefits by displacing the emissions of both greenhouse gases and air pollutants such as SO2 and NOx from fossil fuel electricity generating units (EGUs). Compared with longer-term and globally distributed climate benefits, the immediate and local air quality benefits of wind power development have the potential to incentivize policy-makers to take measures to address global energy and climate challenges. In the United States, much wind power development has historically been driven by the state-level renewable energy policies [such as a renewable portfolio standard (RPS)] (18). An RPS mandates electric utilities to deliver a certain fraction of their electricity sales from eligible renewable energy producers. The air quality benefits from renewable energy depend on the specific fossil fuel EGUs displaced and their emission profiles; the distribution of this displacement also affects the magnitude of air quality benefits that accrue to different population groups. Future policy-making on renewable energy can thus be informed by detailed understanding of the air quality benefits of the existing wind power implementation at the local and regional levels, including identifying specific fossil fuel EGUs associated with air quality improvements and implications for different population groups. In the U.S. context, this is relevant to the recent Inflation Reduction Act that focuses on decarbonizing the electricity sector through development of renewable energy (among many other targets).

If you are not sharing and using my resources at – why not? Get cracking people.

(there’s also )

Speaking of health, I spoke to a local fire chief about the benefits that wind energy has brought to his volunteer department.
They used to wonder if their rigs would start in an emergency – now, they are fully trained and equipped.


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