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Voices / Letters from readers

Defending wind power, turbines

The writer is writer and content manager for the American Wind Energy Association.

RE: “” [, Nov. 30]:

Wind energy is a big carbon reducer. It cut 28 million cars’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions last year alone. Wind is currently on track to produce 20 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030. If it hits that goal, it cut overall electric sector emissions by more than 20 percent.

The vast majority of wind turbines don’t use use direct-drive trains, and therefore they don’t use any rare-earth materials.

The average wind turbine also generates electricity 90 percent of the time. The reality is that no energy source generates electricity 100 percent of the time, and wind has a capacity factor on par with coal and some types of natural gas. It also has a far-higher capacity factor than other types of natural-gas turbines or solar.

Thousands of people worldwide live near wind farms with no ill effects.

Studies and government health organizations around the world have given wind a clean bill of health. For example, a Massachusetts study found no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines or for the existence what some have tried to characterize as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”

A major study in Canada of more than 1,000 homes confirmed this conclusion, stating, “No evidence was found to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported illnesses.”

Studies have found that a “nocebo” effect can take place, the opposite of the well-known “placebo” effect. The nocebo effect describes a situation in which individuals who are led to expect physical symptoms might actually experience these symptoms, whether the supposed cause of the symptoms is actually present.

In this case, increased exposure to misinformation about wind actually seems to increase the likelihood that certain individuals will report negative health effects such as headaches or nausea, although no scientific evidence shows wind turbines cause anything of the sort.

Greg Alvarez
Washington, D.C.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #374 (Wednesday, September 14, 2016).

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