NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Controversy Surrounding Wind Power's Potential

April 3, 2015

The Department of Energy (DOE) claims to have a new and viable alternative for producing a sizeable amount of America's energy needs. So much, in fact, the report claims wind energy will provide 35 percent of our nation's electricity supply. Researchers from the Reason Foundation do not agree with many of the report's figures, however. They stress that creating spinning reserves — the energy necessary to stabilize wind turbines if wind is weaker or stronger than needed for energy generation — means consumers will be relying on nonrenewable energies as backup for  wind power.

The White House claims:

  • Over 500 manufacturing companies would be created to support the wind energy sector.
  • Wind energy costs are reaching competitive levels with fossil fuels and other forms of energy generation.
  • Wind energy could help avoid 12.3 billion metric tons of carbon pollution by 2050.
  • Switching energy supply to wind could prevent 22,000 premature deaths from respiratory issues caused by pollution.

The Reason Foundation argues:  

  • While such a development is possible, investment in new and expensive manufacturing facilities would likely divert $70 billion of federal funds from innovations in the pharmaceutical, agricultural and technology sectors.
  • The DOE says the cost of wind is 20 percent higher than gas, a figure that is only supported by federal subsidies to the consumer at the expense of the taxpayer.
  • The methodology behind how the White House derived this statistic is not known and highly suspect. However, even if it were correct, heavy investment in wind would only reduce emissions by 3.5 billion metric tons by 2050.

Source: Julian Morris "Obama Administration Report Overstates Wind Power's Potential, Understates Costs and Limitations," Reason Foundation, April 2, 2015.

 

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