Are President Trump's Claims About Wind Power Accurate?
President Trump made several unfounded claims last week regarding wind power in the Final 2020 Presidential Debate against Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden.
“I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive.” said Trump while addressing a question regarding climate change. Trump went on to state that wind power “kills all the birds” and that it causes more pollution compared to natural gas-fired power plants. Associated Press examined Trump’s claims in a fact check article.
This is not the first time Trump has made false claims deriding wind energy. Trump made similar remarks in 2019, saying that wind turbines reduced property values by 50% and exaggerating the carbon footprint of manufacturing wind turbines, as reported by Vox.
Firstly, Trump’s claim that wind power is extremely expensive is wrong. Wind energy costs have reached their lowest point in recent years, with prices averaging below 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. The 2020 Wind Technologies Market Report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab states that wind power adoption has steadily increased and that it now composes more than 7% of the national electricity supply.
Secondly, Trump’s claim that wind power “kills all the birds” is also inaccurate. While collisions with wind turbines do account for an estimated 230,000 bird deaths annually, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, this accounts for less than 0.01% of total bird deaths. Major sources include death due to being hunted by cats, with an estimated 2.4 billion deaths annually and collisions with glass buildings, with an estimated 599 million deaths annually.
Lastly, Trump’s comments about the air pollution caused by wind turbine manufacturing are also overblown. While wind turbines do produce pollution when they are made, they produce almost no pollution during operation. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind turbines produce an average of 0.4 ounces of CO2 per kilowatt hour generated (this includes emissions released during manufacturing). In comparison, natural gas-fired power plants produce around 22.6 ounces of CO2 per kilowatt-hour.