HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
A total of 1,000 large wind turbines in Saskatchewan would generate 20 percent of our province's electricity. Over an operational life of 25 years, and with 500 of those turbines being community owned, the following health benefits would be achieved.
Wind energy is an inexhaustible resource that generates no pollution or hazardous waste, does not deplete fresh water resources, and requires no mining, transportation, or refining of a feedstock or fuel. Further, electricity produced by wind farms displaces electricity from other sources, usually the oldest, dirtiest, and least efficient power plants on our electricity system (in other words - coal).
Wind power thus directly and immediately, reduces the negative health impacts associated with air pollution arising from the burning of coal to generate electricity.
The health and environmental benefits are summarized as follows;
REDUCED DEATHS: 1,000 people
Less coal burned means fewer mortalities from such things as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.
MERCURY OUT OF THE ATMOSPHERE: 3,700 kilograms
Mercury is a bioaccumulative neurotoxin which causes brain damage in humans and which is especially dangerous for children and pregnant or nursing mothers.
TOXIC TRACE ELEMENTS NOT RELEASED
Arsenic - 12,000 kilograms
Lead - 9,000 kilograms
Cadmium - 1,000 kilograms
Coal contains significant trace amounts of all these toxic elements (and a number of others). These materials are released into the atmosphere when coal is burned. And when it is not burned (because it is replaced by wind!) these elements are not released and we can all breathe a bit easier.
WATER NOT LOST THROUGH POWER STATION COOLING TOWERS: 140 million cubic metres
This volume of water is equivalent to the amount which would be contained in a 250 kilometre stretch of the South Saskatchewan river.
COAL NOT BURNED: 60 million tonnes
This amount of coal would fill a line of rail cars stretching from Vancouver to Halifax and back again - 10,000 kilometres.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS AVOIDED: 100 million tonnes
This is equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road.
For more information check out our 'Wind Turbines and Human Health' FAQ.