Wind energy emits no toxic substances such as mercury and air pollutants like smog-creating nitrogen oxides, acid rain-forming sulphur dioxide and particulate deposits. These pollutants can trigger cancer, heart disease, asthma and other respiratory diseases, can acidify terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and corrode buildings.
Wind energy creates no waste or water pollution. Given the fact that water scarcity is pressing and will be exacerbated by climate change and population growth, wind energy is key to preserving water resources. Unlike fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, wind energy has one of the lowest water consumption footprints. This is evident in two of the largest wind power markets, USA and China.
In the USA, under the 20 percent Wind Scenario wind power would reduce the annual water consumption in the electric sector by 17 percent by 2030.
In China, the government aims to increase wind power generation capacity to 200 GW by 2020. If achieved, this could save 800 million cubic meters (m3) of water –equivalent to meeting the water demand of 11.2 million households.