One company's effort to quantify the environmental impact of wind farms has found they reduce pollution significantly compared to coal-fired power plants.
When replacing energy that would have come from a coal plant, there's no question wind farms reduce air pollution.
Illustration by Fotolia/Sergey Nivens
An example of the extent to which wind farms can help reduce pollution was provided in a study conducted by Zond Systems Inc., one of California's largest wind-energy producers. With the help of the California Energy Commission, Zond's technical staff formulated estimates of the pollution that would be produced by a hypothetical coal-fired power plant equipped with the latest anti-pollution technology. Zond found that the hypothetical plant, generating the same 30 to 40 million kilowatt-hours produced by Zond's Victory Garden wind farm last year, would emit about 45,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, 21,000 pounds of sulfur oxides, and l,500 pounds of particulates. The company also noted that each of the 250 turbines at the farm saves the annual equivalent of 85 tons of coal, 370 barrels of crude oil or 2.2 million square feet of natural gas.
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