Policy ForumENERGY

Exploiting Wind Versus Coal

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Science  24 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5534, pp. 1438
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063376

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Today, the direct and health and environmental costs of wind energy are less than are those of coal energy. The United States could displace 10% of coal energy at no net federal cost by spending 3 to 4% of 1 year's budget on 36,000 to 40,000 large wind turbines and selling the electricity over 20 years. The authors of this Policy Forum recommend replacing 59% of coal energy with energy from 214,000 to 236,000 turbines, which would allow the United States to meet Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas targets as of 1999 and simultaneously to improve health, acid deposition, smog, and visibility problems associated with coal.