Best Sites for Solar, Wind Aren't Where You Think

Although solar shines the most in the desert southwest and the wind blows in the Great Plains, renewable resources would do the most good if they were sited elsewhere, say Carnegie Mellon University researchers.

If the main reason for building solar and wind plants is to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, they would be best sited in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania where they would replace energy produced from coal. 

"A wind turbine in West Virginia displaces twice as much carbon dioxide and seven times as much health damage as the same turbine in California," says Siler Evans, researcher in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy. "The benefits of solar plants are greatest in the cloudy East as opposed to the sunny Southwest."

Beech Ridge Wind Farm in West Virginia:

Wind Farm West Virginia

Since this is the case, the researchers argue that federal subsidies for solar and wind shouldn’t be the same across the country, they should vary based on where they do the most good.

The paper, "Regional Variations in the Health, Environment and Climate Benefits of Wind and Solar Generation," is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.        

What do you think about this approach?

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