DOE report sees wind potential in all 50 states

A new report from the Department of Energy (DOE) Wind and Water Power Technologies Office has evaluated the potential for wind power to generate electricity in all 50 states.

Today, wind energy provides nearly 5% of the nation’s total electricity generation. With 65 gigawatts (GW) deployed, utility-scale installations in 39 states, and wind power generation exceeding 12% in 11 of those states, according to the report. That’s according to 2014 data, DOE said.

“Wind is a demonstrated clean, affordable electricity resource for the nation,” according to the report, “Enabling Wind Power Nationwide,” issued May 19 by DOE. A report earlier this spring by DOE suggested that proper infrastructure could help wind power achieve 35% of the generation sector by 2050.

“Research and industry experience indicate that wind can be deployed at higher levels while maintaining grid reliability,” according to the executive summary.

“This report describes the current state of wind technology and transportation considerations, and details future technology pathways for technical innovation in towers, rotors, drivetrains, and component transport and installation,” according to the DOE document.

As wind deployment reaches new heights and new regions, additional environmental and human use factors will need to be considered and addressed, according to the report. This includes the potential for new or additional interactions with wildlife such as birds and bats, as well as effects on their habitats. Additionally, impacts related to human use concerns, such as civilian and military radars, must be also evaluated.

Continued research and development, as well as federal, state and local inter-agency coordination, on potential impacts and options for mitigation and resolution are required to ensure responsible deployment, DOE reported.

“For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is creating lighting guidelines for wind turbines with total heights above 500 feet,” DOE said in the report. “In addition, the DOE has recently announced Funding Opportunity Announcements targeting innovative research and development solutions addressing taller towers and larger rotors,” according to the report.

The primary authors include Jose Zayas, Michael Derby, Patrick Gilman and Shreyas Ananthan from DOE; Eric Lantz and Jason Cotrell from National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Fredric Beck of SRA International and Richard Tusing of New West Technologies.

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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