A recent Reuters opinion column by John Kemp and the report it references are simply asking questions that have already been answered, and the answer is that wind energy produces the expected pollution reductions because wind power has virtually zero negative impact on the efficiency or emissions of fossil-fired power plants.
A forthcoming report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, due for release within weeks, used a massive body of real-world data from emission monitors at power plants to analyze the impact wind energy has on the efficiency and emissions of fossil-fired power plants.
That analysis found that wind energy produces 99.8% of the carbon dioxide emission reductions that would be produced under 1:1 displacement of fossil fuel generation, even with wind and solar energy providing one quarter of all electricity on the power system.
In addition to directly displacing fossil fuel generation on a 1:1 basis, in many cases wind energy actually improved the average efficiency of the fossil-fired power plants that remained online by displacing the least efficient, and most expensive, power plants first.
As a result, a scenario in which wind and solar energy provided 24-26 percent of the electricity in the Western U.S. reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 29-34 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by 16-22 percent, and sulfur dioxide emissions by 14-24 percent.
In contrast, the report mentioned in the Reuters opinion piece is simply an old literature review that concluded, based on the scant research done prior to that point in time, that any impacts from wind were