Land Use of Coal VS Wind

Fossil fuel apologists often point to apparent equivalencies of land use by wind power and coal power.  When not upset by it, I find it perversely fascinating.  Much of the wind farm acreage is in agricultural farm and ranch-land.  The usage is highly symbiotic and there is negligible environmental damage.  See the Indiana wind farm below.  Note that the land is relatively flat and the access roads are gravel so rainwater will perk harmlessly into the ground water table.  Also erosion will be minimal.  Most importantly, if it is decided to remove the turbines, the land can revert to prior use pretty much instantaneously with no degradation.

Contrast wind with coal, particularly mountaintop removal.  In traditional strip mining, “overburden” was removed, the coal removed and then the overburden was replaced.  Something approaching reclamation could be achieved.  With Mountaintop removal, the land is forever changed and degraded.  The ecosystems are forever changed and, perhaps most importantly, the hydrology is forever changed.  The mountains are converted from solid rock to porous rubble.  Stream chemistry is changed dramatically.  Stream flow rate change with higher peak flows i.e. flooding is worse.

There is much about coal and wind that has not been monetized and so fossil fuel apologists consider it appropriate to omit all aspects that cannot be monetized.  An antidote to this is to provide qualitative responses until there is some rational discussion of best estimates of those harder to monetize externalities.  This site does a nice job of doing that in the arena of coal.  And here is another site that discusses the comparison of coal vs renewables.

Mountaintop removal:

Coal MineOne of many mountaintop removal sites in West Virginia.  They are easy to find using Google.

Mountaintop removal up close

Same site up close showing that it is not simply an overburden removal but blasting 100’s of feet of solid rock.

Turbines on farmlandWindfarm in Indiana.  No hydrological impact, no permanent alteration of the landscape.

Wind farm zoomedHere is the wind farm zoomed out a little further showing that the land use of the turbines is comparable to that of the farmer’s lawns!

Here is an earlier post on recent coal related stream pollution.

Additional visuals on the scale of coal mining and environmental destruction.

The entire world could be powered by solar using 0.3% of the land area – see Here .


Coal Mines, wind farm, coal, mining, environmental impact, rare earths, rare earth mining

This entry was posted in Fossil Fuel, RE Siting Controversy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Land Use of Coal VS Wind

  1. Pingback: Cost of Mountain Top Removal | The Handleman Post

  2. Pingback: What Percentage of the Worlds Land Area Would Be Required to Run Everything With Solar? | The Handleman Post

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