Wind has yet to establish foothold in Southeast, but that could change

Improving technology and cost competitiveness might soon help wind power establish a foothold in Southern states, according to data issued recently by the Southeastern Wind Coalition.

The Southeastern Wind Coalition recently posted updated fact sheets on wind power, and its potential, both regionally and for each of the 11 states. The fact sheets can be found on the organization’s web site, www.sewind.org.

The Southeast has long been dominated by central station power fueled by coal, nuclear and natural gas.

Wind turbines were originally designed for the highest wind speed sites and were not well-suited to areas like the Southeast. “Recently, turbine manufacturers have designed taller towers and longer blades, improving energy output, especially at lower wind speed sites,” the trade group said. These wind turbines can be 110 meters high.

“This technology trend is continuing, which significantly increases potentially viable areas for wind energy, especially in the Southeast,” the coalition said. The technology should be arriving within the next five-to-10 years.

The advanced wind technology could make most areas of the Southeast commercially viable for wind energy, according to the group.

The Southeast is already home to at least 227 companies and 300 facilities that are involved in the full value chain of the wind energy industry, even though almost no utility-scale wind has been developed in the region.

A snapshot of electric generation in the Southeast suggests that 34.5% of the region’s electricity comes from coal; followed by 33.25% natural gas and 25% nuclear power. The next most significant resource is hydroelectric power at 3.9% and other renewables (including biomass and solar) account for 2.2%. Petroleum accounts for less than 1% (0.9%) of the region’s electricity, according to the data sheet.

In Virginia, Dominion (NYSE:D) has been taking a hard look at offshore wind power.

The Southeastern Wind Coalition provides fact sheets for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

 

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.