Benefits of Renewable Energy

Economic Benefits

  • Local economic impacts of wind power are derived from temporary and permanent employment in construction, engineering, transportation, manufacturing, and operations; local economic activity resulting from wind construction; and increased revenues from land lease payments and tax revenue.[1]
  • Attracting more than $100 billion in private investment to the US since 2008
  • Supporting a manufacturing supply chain of more than 500 factories across 43 states
  • By the end of 2013, approximately 50,500 individuals were employed directly in the wind equipment supply, construction, and operation sectors, with 17,400 of these in the manufacturing sector. In the 39 states with utility-scale wind deployment, wind plants create permanent jobs for site operations and provide local tax and lease payments. [2] Globally, an estimated 834,000 direct and indirect jobs were tied to wind in 2013. [3]
  • The value of wind project development flows toward the local community through annual land lease payments. With over 98% of all wind energy projects on private land, wind energy projects deliver at least $195 million every year in land lease payments to landowners. Other local benefits include property tax payments, payments in lieu of taxes, and increased local spending plus its associated tax revenue. These local benefits are often used toward community development such as schools, libraries and hospitals.[4]

Environmental Benefits

  • Wind deployment delivers public health and environmental benefits today, including reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced air pollutants, and reduced water consumption and withdrawals. [5]
  • Carbon dioxide reduced by 125 million metric tons, equivalent to 26.4 million cars worth of carbon emissions.
  • The 12,700 MW of wind power capacity under construction at the end of 2014 is expected to reduce another 30.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year when it is operational — the equivalent of reducing power-sector CO2 emissions by another 1.4%.[6]
  • On average, wind generation today will avoid roughly 0.69 metric tons (1,500 pounds) of CO2 for every MWh of wind generation. A typical new wind turbine will avoid over 4,200 metric tons of CO2 annually, the equivalent of nearly 900 cars worth of carbon emissions.[7]
  • In 2014, wind energy generation reduced water consumption at existing power plants by approximately 68 billion gallons of water – the equivalent of roughly 215 gallons per person in the U.S. or conserving the equivalent of 517 billion bottles of water.[8]
  • Wind generation can help utilities, states, and other entities meet emission reduction requirements by reducing emissions from fossil-fuel generation, most commonly coal and natural gas power plants. This benefit of wind is becoming increasingly valuable due to EPA’s pending rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants under its proposed Clean Power Plan.[9]

Reliability

  • Continued advancements and scale-up of turbine technology have helped reduce wind power costs and enable broader geographic deployment of wind power. [10]
  • Providing 61 GW of wind across 39 states in 2013
Pinwheel by Holgers Fotografie [CC0]

Photo from the public domain

Since 2008, wind power has attracted more than $100 billion in private investment in the U.S.
Wb_deichh_drei_kuhs by Dirk Ingo Franke [CC BY-SA]

Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke

Wind Turbine Cluster [CC0]

Photo by Jaya Prime and Stevebidmead

In 2013, 61 gigawatts of energy was generated by wind power across 39 states.