- Journal Article
Abstract: Understanding impacts of renewable energy on air quality and associated human exposures is essential for informing future policy. We estimate the impacts of US wind power on air quality and pollution exposure disparities using hourly data from 2011-2017 and detailed atmospheric chemistry modeling.
Wind power associated with Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) in 2014 resulted in $2.0 billion in health benefits from improved air quality. 29% and 32% of these health benefits accrued to racial/ethnic minority and low income populations respectively, below a 2021 target by the Biden administration that 40% of overall benefits of future federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Wind power worsened exposure disparities among racial and income groups in some states, but improved them in others.
Health benefits could be up to $8.4 billion if displacement of fossil fuel generators prioritized those with higher health damages. However, strategies that maximize total health benefits would not mitigate pollution disparities, suggesting more targeted measures are needed.