Wind is an emissions-free source of energy

Wind turbines at the Cerro Gordo Project, west of Mason City, Iowa
Wind Farm at The Cerro Gordo Project, West of Mason City, Iowa

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (public domain)

Wind is a renewable energy source. Overall, using wind to produce energy has fewer environmental impacts than many other energy sources. Wind turbines do not release emissions that can pollute the air or water (with rare exceptions), and they do not require water for cooling. Wind turbines may also reduce the amount of electricity generated from fossil fuels, which reduces the total amount of air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. Wind turbines may also reduce water used for electricity generation.

A wind turbine has a small physical footprint relative to the amount of electricity it can produce. Groups of wind turbines, sometimes called wind farms, are located on open land or on mountain ranges and can also be placed offshore in lakes or in the ocean.

Wind turbines have some negative impacts on the environment

Modern wind turbines are large machines, and some people do not like the visual impact they have on the landscape. A small number of wind turbines have also caught fire, and some have leaked lubricating fluids, but these are rare occurrences. Some people do not like the sound that wind turbine blades make. Some types of wind turbines and wind projects cause bird and bat deaths. These deaths may contribute to declines in the population of species also affected by other human-related impacts. The wind energy industry and the U.S. government are researching ways to reduce the impact of wind turbines on birds and bats.

Most wind power projects on land also require service roads that add to the physical impact on the environment. Wind turbines also require the use of rare earth minerals. These minerals are often located in countries with less stringent environmental standards than the United States, and the mining of these minerals may have negative impacts on the environment. Producing the metals and other materials used to make wind turbines and the concrete used for their foundations requires the use of energy, which may be produced by fossil fuels.