Episode 128: Where should wind and solar plants be located to best lower pollution?

This episode of Energy Bite features Jay Apt, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and in the CMU Department of Engineering & Public Policy, discussing why location matters when it comes to renewable energy plants.

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Where Wind Power is Harnessed from the Energy Information Agency

Where Solar is Found from the Energy Information Agency

Trends in Renewable Energy Consumption from the Energy Information Agency

U.S. Wind Maps from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

U.S. Solar Maps from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Transcript

HOST: Have you ever wondered whether wind and solar plants should be located to best lower air pollution? On this week’s Energy Bite, Jay Apt, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

APT: We all know that the sun shines most in the southwest part of the United States and the wind blows the most in the Great Plains. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that is where you should locate wind and solar plants.

If your objective is to decrease polluting power sources, you should locate the wind and solar where we have existing high pollution electric power sources. And thus increase the share of renewable power. In many cases, the renewable power can be less expensive than, let’s say, building a new coal plant in the Ohio Valley.

HOST: Can you give an example of how this might work?

APT: Some years ago, New Jersey passed incentives that have tremendously increased the amount of solar power in that state. I thought initially that was not an effective policy, because the sun does not shine as much in New Jersey as say it does in Arizona. But I came to realize that in New Jersey, solar power was displacing some old oil power plants and so it was a cost effective power that significantly reduced pollution.

HOST: Do you think wind and solar power are right for your region? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

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