President Trump has said some pretty crazy things about wind power of late, including:
The noise from wind turbines may cause cancer.
Wind turbines cause property values to plummet.
If wind powers our electricity, the TV will go off when the wind stops blowing.
Like many of the things President Trump says, these statements are false. But here’s the real reason Trump is attacking wind power: It’s going to replace the electricity produced from burning coal. And soon.
The U.S. could replace half of the electricity produced by coal with wind and solar power within the next few years – and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 600 million metric tons by 2025.
Mothballing half of the country’s coal-burning electricity plants would eliminate 122,000 megawatts of energy production – enough to power about five million homes for a year. But the electricity produced by these plants will be easily replaced by wind and solar – and create more green jobs in the process.
Renewable energy already accounts for 18 percent of electricity production, twice as much as just a decade ago. Thanks to a revolution in batteries to store electricity, wind and solar production have increased dramatically in the past few years.
Solar capacity has almost tripled, from 19,000 megawatts in 2015 to 48,000 megawatts in 2018. Wind production has also almost tripled since 2009, from 35,000 megawatts to more than 90,000 megawatts expected this year.
In the past 10 years, rapid growth in wind and solar has lowered the cost of solar by almost 90 percent and wind by nearly 70 percent. The potential capacity of wind and solar is huge: more than 14 million megawatts, or 14 times as much electricity as we currently produce. Wind represents more than 12 million megawatts of this potential capacity, including two million megawatts from wind produced offshore.
Thanks to this rapid growth, there are now three times as many jobs in renewable energy as in coal, nuclear and natural gas combined. Making a rapid transition to more wind and solar, while also expanding the production of electric vehicles, would create many more jobs, including high-paying manufacturing jobs.
The real threat posed by Trump is not his words but his actions. He seeks to cut funding for renewable energy production, roll back energy efficiency standards, gut rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bail out dirty sources of fossil fuels like coal. It’s his bad policies – not his laughably inaccurate polemics – that could slow the growth of clean energy.