The facts about wind power
During a speech Saturday, President Donald Trump ranted against wind farms, claiming that they cause a large carbon footprint, that they’re expensive and that they kill bald eagles.
“I never understood wind,” Trump said, speaking to conservative student group Turning Point USA. “I know windmills very much. I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive.”
President Trump: "I never understood wind, you know I know windmills very much. I've studied it better than anybody." pic.twitter.com/0U432SgNA2— The Hill (@thehill) December 22, 2019
“They are made in China and Germany mostly,” Trump continued. “Very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous--if you are into this--tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere.”
“You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe,” the president asserted. “So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right? Spewing, whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air.”
The president also claimed that wind farms can affect property values of nearby homes.
“If you own a house within vision of some of these monsters,” Trump said, speaking of wind turbines, “your house is worth fifty percent of the price. They’re noisy. They kill the birds.”
The president referred to wind turbines as “bird graveyards” before claiming, “A windmill will kill many bald eagles.”
The cost of wind energy
Trump began his rant by claiming that wind energy is “very expensive.”
The president was likely referring to the high initial investment required for wind power, even though that price has fallen dramatically over the past decade.
According to the U.S. Department of Department of Energy (DOE)’s Wind Technologies Market Report, the average installed cost of wind projects in 2018 was $1,470 per kilowatt. This is down 40 percent from 2010.
Once installed, there are significant cost advantages to using wind turbines.
Wind power remains one of the lowest-priced energy sources available, costing an average of six cents per kilowatt-hour in 2018, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. In comparison, the cost of electricity generation from fossil fuels ranged from five to 17 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Wind power also creates jobs. The U.S. wind sector employed more than 100,000 workers in 2016, and it has the potential to support more than 600,000 jobs by 2050, according to the DOE.
“Tremendous amount of fumes”
Trump went on to speak about the “tremendous amount of fumes” produced as a result of wind energy production.
Wind, unlike the combustion of fossil fuels, is known to be a clean power source that does not pollute the air.
The president may have been speaking about carbon emissions produced from the manufacturing process of wind turbines. However, a typical wind project will repay its own carbon footprint in six months of operation or less, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Saturday’s speech was not the first time Trump spoke about home values being affected by wind turbines.
The president has previously said that wind turbines can cause property values to decrease by 75 percent. He has also falsely claimed that they cause cancer for people who live nearby.
A 2016 study published by the Journal of Real Estate Research investigated “the effect of planned or operating wind turbines on urban home values.” The study found that while things like electricity transmission lines can affect home values, there was no net effect due to wind turbines.
The president in his speech expressed concern for birds, particularly bald eagles, that may be killed by flying into wind turbines, calling them “bird graveyards.”
The concern is not unfounded. Between 140,000 and 328,000 birds die each year from wind turbines, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Biological Conservation.
However, this number is significantly less than the number of birds killed each year in oil fields—500,000 to 1 million, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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