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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

BU Identifies Health Benefits in Offshore Wind Farms

Offshore wind farms off the coasts of New Jersey and Maryland could have health and climate benefits worth more than half a billion dollars annually and could save more than 50 lives a year, according to a new study co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

The study, published online in Environmental Research Letters, makes clear that the benefits of offshore wind vary greatly, depending on the location and size of the facility. It comes as the first offshore wind farm in the US—off Block Island—nears completion.

Generating electricity from low-carbon energy sources such as offshore wind reduces the need for fossil fuel power generation, decreasing emissions of harmful air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. The research team—which includes Dr. Jonathan Levy, professor of environmental health at BUSPH and the study’s principal investigator—simulated the public health and climate benefits of different sizes of offshore wind facilities off the coasts of New Jersey and Maryland.

They found that while all of the offshore wind projects reduced air pollutant emissions, the results varied by location and the size of the project. The largest simulated project, 3000 megawatts (MW) off the coast of New Jersey, would have benefits of $690 million and save 55 lives in the year 2017. A smaller (1100 MW) facility in the same location and year would have smaller benefits per megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated.

Dr. Levy said that, given the estimated costs of generating electricity using offshore wind, the study indicates that “the entire cost of an offshore wind facility would be justified in the health and climate benefits, before considering the value of selling the electricity.”

To read more about the study, go to: http://www.bu.edu/sph/2016/07/15/health-benefits-identified-in-offshore-wind-farms/