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Clean Power Wind Power Cuts CO2 Emissions Considerably, Even At High Penetration Levels

Published on October 21st, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan

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Wind Power Cuts CO2 Emissions Considerably, Even At High Penetration Levels

October 21st, 2013 by  

New empirical research out of Spain shows that wind power is very effective at cutting CO2 emissions, even at quite high penetration levels.

This is, of course, what many of us would expect, but some people have had the odd idea (or have at least claimed) that wind power plants require such a large amount of backup power that they are useless in making such cuts. Absurd… as this new research shows. Unfortunately, the myth proposed by the confused or biased commenters that most likely stimulated this research has been spread pretty far and wide. Media agencies with a weird bias against wind power, or simply looking to stir up controversy and counterintuitive claims, have been keen to present the myth noted above. Will this research put an end to that? One can only hope so.


The specific findings of the researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid were as follows:

  • “[E]very wind MWh introduced in the network allows us to avoid all the CO2 of each displaced thermal MWh at a low penetration.”
  • “When penetration levels are as high as 50%, the wind effect is accumulative and reductions would reach just 80%. However, this reduction is still significant and there are no negative cases…”

The researchers also note that the usefulness of wind turbines can be further improved by developing wind turbine technology and modeling, management of the electricity system, and use of energy storage technologies — all of this is already well known and there is a great deal of research and development going on in these arenas. In other words, wind power’s tremendous CO2-cutting effect is only going to increase in the coming years.

With wind power being the cheapest option for new electricity in many if not most regions of the world, this is of course great news, even if it is (unfortunately) intuitive and will not be covered by much of the media for that reason, including the same media outlets that have repeatedly covered the counterintuitive myth.

Just be sure to bookmark this article for the next time you see a story or comment that betrays the purported intelligence of the human species.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species), one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media: ZacharyShahan.com.



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