Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wind Week: Wind vs. Coal Emissions

From the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Burning coal is a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming, and air toxics. In an average year, a typical coal plant generates:

* 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary human cause of global warming--as much carbon dioxide as cutting down 161 million trees.

* 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which causes acid rain that damages forests, lakes, and buildings, and forms small airborne particles that can penetrate deep into lungs.

* 500 tons of small airborne particles, which can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death, as well as haze obstructing visibility.

* 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), as much as would be emitted by half a million late-model cars. NOx leads to formation of ozone (smog) which inflames the lungs, burning through lung tissue making people more susceptible to respiratory illness.

* 720 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), which causes headaches and place additional stress on people with heart disease.

* 220 tons of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOC), which form ozone.

* 170 pounds of mercury, where just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat.

* 225 pounds of arsenic, which will cause cancer in one out of 100 people who drink water containing 50 parts per billion.

* 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium.

Wind power generates electricity with...

* No air emissions

Coal vs. Wind

Comment: A typical coal plant produces about 500 megawatts or electricity for about 100,000 households. There are about 600 in the U.S.

For a discussion of this year's victory in halting the construction of 8 new coal fired plants in Texas, see the following article from Environmental Defense.

For some spectacular photos of off-shore wind farms check out:
Dark Roasted Blend's piece on wind-power-in-stormy-waters.

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