Wind energy remains one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways to cut carbon pollution. In 2018 alone, wind cut over 43 million cars’ worth of CO2 emissions, an amount that represents around 11 percent of total electric sector carbon emissions. This amount will only increase as wind energy continues its healthy growth trajectory. And because wind’s costs have fallen by 69 percent since 2009, these reductions are made cost effectively.

Climate change poses a substantial threat to human health and the environment, and AWEA supports policies that reduce carbon pollution, including by accurately valuing wind’s zero-carbon electricity. 

For example, AWEA is one of a diverse group of backers participating in Americans for Carbon Dividends (AFCD) and the associated Baker-Shultz plan. This forum offers a valuable opportunity to join a bipartisan conversation on carbon policy. Baker-Schulz is one of several carbon pricing plans we’re analyzing.

AWEA's carbon pricing principles

AWEA has long believed that a price on carbon is important.  We are anxious to engage in thoughtful conversations with organizations that are pursuing meaningful policy solutions. Any policy position that AWEA endorses will need to comply with our carbon pricing principles.
 
Policies that price carbon should: 
  • Be market-based and designed to create long-term price signals and compliance flexibility in order to drive low-cost solutions. 
  • Be cost-effective for consumers while ensuring American families and businesses maintain access to affordable, reliable electricity.
  • Be ambitious enough to affect real change in the energy sector necessary to meet emission reduction targets.
  • Preferably be nationwide in scale but flexible enough to allow regional and state programs to go further should states or regions wish.
  • Be supportive of upgrades to and the expansion of America’s electric grid, including transmission investment, which will support the reliable, resilient grid of the future.

Zero carbon electricity

Wind power generates electricity without any carbon pollution. Even when considering carbon emissions from manufacturing and construction associated with building wind farms, a typical wind turbine repays its “carbon footprint,” in six months or less and provides carbon-free electrcity for the remainder of its 20 to 30 year lifespan.

A peer-reviewed analysis by a Department of Energy lab found that wind energy produces 99.8 percent of the carbon emissions savings expected of a zero-emissions resource even when accounting for increased cycling of fossil generation to help integrate variable resources like wind. The study found that for a scenario with wind and solar providing 33 percent of electricity on the Western U.S. power system, one megawatt hour (MWh) of wind energy saves more than 1,190 pounds of carbon pollution on average, with those savings reduced by only 0.2 percent as a result of increased cycling of fossil-fired power plants. Other studies have confirmed these results.