On May 19, the Department of Energy (DOE) Wind and Water Power Technologies Office released a report examining the potential for wind energy to generate electricity in all 50 states. Wind energy currently provides about 5% of the nation’s electricity generation, but DOE believes that wind energy can be deployed at higher levels once the next generation of larger, taller turbines in development hits the market. DOE notes that the report supports President Obama’s “all-of-the above” energy strategy.
The report, “Enabling Wind Power Nationwide” (available at: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/05/f22/Enabling-Wind-Power-Nationwide_18MAY2015_FINAL.pdf), describes the current state of wind technology and details future pathways for technical innovation, while recognizing that addressing environmental, economic, and human use considerations are necessary in order to realize the nation’s full wind power potential and value. Wind generation has more than tripled in the United States in just six years, which is not surprising given that the cost of wind power has decreased 58% since 2009, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
On wind energy, DOE is “focused on expanding its clean power potential to every state in the country,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “By producing the next generation of larger and more efficient wind turbines, we can create thousands of new jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as we fully unlock wind power as a critical national resource.” The wind energy industry currently operates in 39 states, but taller wind turbines, currently under development by DOE and their private sector partners, would significantly expand wind energy development particularly in the Southwest, Northeast, and states surrounding the Ohio River Valley and the Great Lakes.
Several federal agencies already have initiatives underway to support efforts to enable wind power nationwide, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s lighting guidelines for wind turbines and DOE’s Funding Opportunity Announcements targeting research and development solutions for taller towers and larger rotors.
DOE’s wind energy report was released in conjunction with Secretary Moniz’s appearance at AWEA’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida. It follows the release of DOE’s Wind Vision report (available at: http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/WindVision_Report_final.pdf ), which provided a roadmap for reducing wind costs, expanding developable areas, and increasing economic value for the nation.