There are numerous benefits to using wind to produce energy rather than fossil fuels, especially to the environment. Wind energy offers a pollution-free, infinitely sustainable form of energy and a solution that supplements and can reduce our reliance on traditional fossil-based power generation. In the last few decades we have seen the remarkable impact and changes in air quality, global warming, atmospheric instability (results in higher concentration of air pollutants) and extreme weather events from the use of fossil fuels.
The build-up of greenhouse gases is not only causing a gradual rise in average temperatures, but also seems to be increasing fluctuations in weather patterns and causing more frequent and severe droughts and floods. Its presence in the air along with other pollutants has contributed to make asthma one of the fastest growing childhood ailments in industrial and developing countries alike, and it has also recently been linked to lung cancer. Similarly, urban smog has been linked to low birth weight, premature births, stillbirths and infant deaths.
A single fossil fuel power plant can emit as much as one million tons of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, annually. Wind turbines are powered solely by wind and don't require any form of fuel to operate. The production of energy through wind power creates zero air emissions resulting in no further contributions to smog, acid rain or climate change.
The global wind energy potential, even excluding environmentally sensitive areas, is roughly five times current global electricity use. Using wind to produce enough power for over 200 homes (2,000,000 kWh) of electricity instead of burning coal will leave 900,000 kilograms of coal in the ground and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2,000 tonnes. This is equivalent to taking 417 cars off the road or planting 10,000 trees. One direct result of emissions being released into the air is acid rain. It has harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals and buildings and city infrastructure. The principal cause of acid rain is sulfur- and nitrogen compounds from human sources, such as electricity generation, factories and motor vehicles. Coal power plants are one of the most polluting. The gases can be carried hundreds of kilometres in the atmosphere before they are converted to acids and deposited.
Our reliance on these fuels for energy does not only effect the environment during power generation, but also during exploration, extraction, production and transportation of resources such as oil, coal and natural gas. The effects on marine ecology and wildlife habitat from oil and gas exploration have been well documented and at times devastating.