by Kevin Maddaford on 03/09/2010, Renewable Energy Choice,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and AWS Truewind, a renewable energy consulting firm, have collaborated on a project to update information about wind energy resources and potential in the United States, the first such update since 1993. The results show that U.S. onshore wind resources are greater than had been previously estimated.
The study concluded that onshore wind resources in the U.S. could support over 10,000 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. By comparison, there are currently 35.159 GW of capacity installed in the U.S. These resources could potentially generate 37,000,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity annually, which is over nine times the amount of electricity consumed in a year in the U.S. The previous survey, conducted by the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, estimated U.S. wind potential at 10,777,000 GWh.
The study looked at wind speeds at 80-meter and 100-meter heights above the ground. These heights take into account the larger size of modern wind turbines; the higher hub heights and larger blade diameters enable turbines to capture more kinetic energy from the wind, which blows stronger and more consistently high above the ground. In order to provide more accurate estimates, NREL filtered the wind potential estimates to exclude areas unlikely to be developed, such as wilderness areas, parks, urban areas, and water features.
To check out the wind power projects supported by Renewable Choice Energy on our wind and carbon projects map.
PERSONALLY SPEAKING Improvements in wind monitoring and turbine technologies will allow us to put more efficient turbines in places where the wind blows the strongest and most consistently. This will reduce the cost of wind energy, as single turbines will be able to generate more electricity, reducing construction, operation and maintenance, and transmission costs. These new data show that wind energy has tremendous promise in the U.S. that we have only begun to tap into. ~Kevin Kevin Maddaford is Associate of Resource Development at Renewable Choice Energy