Wind power in the United States

Wind power in the United States

Wind power in the United States is a growing industry. In 2007, the United States was the fastest growing wind power market in the world for the third year in a row [ Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation] ] .

At the end of August 2008 the United States wind power installed nameplate capacity was 20.15 GW, which is enough to serve 5 million average households. $9 billion was invested in 5.3 gigawatts of new U.S. wind power capacity in 2007, causing the total U.S. wind power capacity to increase by 46%. Wind power accounted for 35% of all new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2007. American wind farms will generate an estimated 48 terawatt-hours (tWh) of wind energy in 2008, just over 1.5% of U.S. electricity supply. [ Installed Wind Capacity Surged 45% in 2007] ] In addition, new transmission facilities under development throughout the country should allow the future development of at least another 200 gigawatts of wind power.

The growing U.S. wind market spurred new investment in turbine and component manufacturing plants, with enough new and planned facilities to create more than 4,700 new U.S. jobs.

The world's top wind producer

U.S. wind power nameplate capacity is exceeded only by Germany, with Spain a close third. However, because U.S. wind farms have a higher average capacity factor than those in Germany due to higher average wind speeds, the U.S. became the world's largest producer of energy from the wind in mid-2008.Cite web
title=Why T. Boone Pickens Could Be the Best Hope for Wind Energy
publisher=US News and World Report
] cite web
title=Report finds US is world's top wind producer
publisher=The Guardian
] As the U.S. is adding wind power faster than any other nation as of 2008, it should become the world leader in nameplate capacity sometime in 2009. The largest projects are in Texas, the Great Plains, and California, with smaller projects either underway or under consideration in many states.

As of March 2008, Texas (5,316 MW) was the state with most wind capacity installed, followed by California (2,483 MW).

The largest operational wind farm is the 736 MW Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas. The Pampa Wind Farm is scheduled to surpass it with 1,000 MW online by 2011.

Wind power by state

Most new wind power capacity is being built in the Great Plains region of the United States, which has a favorable combination of characteristics: ample wind resources, an extensive rail and highway network for shipping outsized turbine components, flat topography which both improves the wind and makes turbine components easier to ship, and broad acceptance from local farmers and ranchers. The table below shows wind potential and installed capacity along with existing construction (to end of June 2008).

*Note: 50m Potential capacity is based on 10D by 5D spacing (D = rotor diameter) of 50 m high turbines in class 3 or better wind with moderate exclusions. [ [ An Assessment of the Available Windy Land Area and Wind Energy Potential in the Contiguous United States] Pacific Northwest Laboratory August 1991 pg. B.1 Retrieved 21 August 2008]

Largest wind farms

As of March 2008, these are some of the largest wind farms in the United States:

Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center is the world's largest wind farm at 735.5 megawatt (MW) capacity. It consists of 291 GE Energy 1.5 MW wind turbines and 130 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines spread over nearly 47,000 acres (190 km²) of land in Taylor and Nolan County, Texas.cite web
last =FPL Energy, LLC
title =Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center now largest wind farm in the world
publisher =FPL Energy, LLC
date =2007-09-07
url =
accessdate =2007-06-14
] The first phase of the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center consisted of 213 MW and was completed in late 2005; phase two consisted of 223.5 MW and was completed in the second quarter of 2006; phase three which consisted of 299 MW, was completed by the end of 2006.

The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm is currently under construction in Benton County, Indiana. The wind farm will be completed in two phases and will have a maximum generating capacity of 750 MW total. The first phase of the project, consisting of 222 wind turbines, will bring the first 400 MW on-line by the end of 2008. Phase 2 (350 MW) could begin in early 2009. [ [ Fowler Ridge Wind Farm] ]

A proposed 4,000 MW facility, called the Pampa Wind Project, is to be located near Pampa, Texas, with the first 1,000 MW to come online by 2011.

Wind power industry and government support

The U.S. has a significant wind turbine industry but also relies on imports to supply its rapidly growing industry. GE Energy provided over 2.3 gigawatts of new wind capacity in North America in 2007, an increase of more than 100% over the prior year. To help GE meet the high demand for wind turbines, two component suppliers, Molded Fiber Glass Companies and TPI Composites, announced plans in 2007 to build new wind turbine blade manufacturing plants in Aberdeen, South Dakota and Newton, Iowa respectively. The new plants will enable both companies to increase their capacity for producing blades for GE's 1.5-megawatt wind turbines, which are among the most widely used machines. [ [ GE Energy Reinforces Leadership Position In U. S. Wind Industry, Installing Over 2.3 Gigawatts Of Additional Capacity In 2007] ]

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will work with six leading wind turbine manufacturers over the next 2 years with an eye toward achieving 20% wind power in the United States by 2030. The DOE announced the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with GE Energy, Siemens Power Generation, Vestas Wind Systems, Clipper Windpower, Suzlon Energy, and Gamesa Corporation. Under the MOU, the DOE and the six manufacturers will collaborate to gather and exchange information relating to five major areas: research and development related to turbine reliability and operability; siting strategies for wind power facilities; standards development for turbine certification and universal interconnection of wind turbines; manufacturing advances in design, process automation, and fabrication techniques; and workforce development. [ [ Department of Energy - DOE Announces Effort to Advance U.S. Wind Power Manufacturing Capacity ] ] [ [ 20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy's Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply, May 2008 ] ]

In addition, the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has announced a number of wind technology projects, including a new state-of-the-art wind turbine blade test facility to be build in Ingleside, Texas. The Texas-NREL Large Blade Research and Test Facility will be capable of testing blades as long as 70 meters (230 feet). It will be built and operated through a partnership among NREL, DOE, and a state consortium led by University of Houston, with the university owning and operating the facility's buildings, DOE funding up to $2 million in capital costs, and NREL providing technical and operational assistance. The blade test facility is estimated to cost between $12 million and $15 million and should be completed by 2010. Located on the Gulf Coast, the Texas facility will complement a similar facility that is being built on the coast of Massachusetts. [ [ NREL: New Wind Power Partnerships to Benefit Industry and Nation ] ]

NREL has also recently signed agreements with Siemens Power Generation and First Wind, a wind power developer. Siemens is launching a new research and development facility in nearby Boulder, Colorado, and has agreed to locate and test a commercial-scale wind turbine at NREL's National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). First Wind (formerly called UPC Wind Partners, LLC) owns and operates the 30-megawatt Kaheawa Wind Farm in West Maui, Hawaii, and has agreed to let the NWTC establish a Remote Research Affiliate Partner Site at the facility. The Maui satellite of NWTC will collaborate with First Wind on studies to develop advanced wind energy technologies, including energy storage and integration of renewable electricity into Maui's electrical grid. []

In July, 2008, Texas approved a $4.93 billion expansion of the state's electric grid to bring wind energy to its major cities. Transmission companies will recoup the cost of constructing the new power lines, expected to be completed in 2013, from fees estimated at $4 per month for residential customers. []

In 2008 a 131 foot wind turbine blade was on display first outside the Democratic National Convention in Denver and then the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. [ [ Wind power on display in Minneapolis] ]

The Great River Energy Company, in Minnesota has a wind turbine and solar panels installed at its headquarters. In 2007 the wind turbine was one of only six installed in a metropolitan area in the United States. The output and building electricity usage can be monitored on the Internet. [ [ Informational kiosk] ]

Additional income for farmers

There is considerable competition for wind farms among farmers in places like Iowa or ranchers in Colorado. Farmers, with no investment on their part, typically receive $3,000–5,000 per year in reliable royalties from the local utility for siting a single, large, advanced-design wind turbine, which occupies a quarter-acre of land. This land would otherwise produce 40 bushels of corn worth $120 or, in ranch country, beef worth perhaps $15, and even less during years of drought or other difficulties. In coming years, thousands of ranchers could be earning more from electricity sales than from cattle sales, and the diversified income would be largely unaffected by the normal ups and downs of farming and ranching. In addition to the additional income, tax revenue, and jobs that wind farms bring, money spent on electricity generated from wind farms stays in the community, creating a ripple effect throughout the local economy. [ [ "Stabilizing Climate"] in Lester R. Brown, "Plan B 2.0 Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble" (NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2006), p. 191.] cite web
title=Legendary Texas oilman embraces wind power
publisher=Star Tribune
] cite web
title=Texas Oil Man Says We Can Break the Addiction
publisher=Sightline Daily
] cite web
title=T. Boone Pickens Places $2 Billion Order for GE Wind Turbines
publisher=Wind Today Magazine

Aesthetics, the environment and quality of life

Landscape and ecological issues may be significant for some wind farm proposals. [Gone with the wind, "New Scientist", 8 July 2006, pp. 36-39] However, when appropriate planning procedures for site selection are followed environmental problems should be minimal. Some people may still object to wind farms, but their concerns should be weighed against the need to address the threats posed by climate change and fossil fuel depletion, the need for energy security, and the opinions of the broader community. [ [ Wind Farms The facts and the fallacies] ] [ Case Study – Arga Where the wild things are] ]

Worldwide experience has shown that community consultation and direct involvement of the general public in wind farm projects has helped to increase community approval, [ [ The world's leader in Wind Power] ] and some wind farms overseas have become tourist attractions. [ [ Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm] ]

In July 2008, notable oilman T. Boone Pickens emerged as perhaps the most recognizable American advocate of wind power, as a component in his Pickens Plan to reduce the $700 billion per year the U.S. was spending to import petroleum.

Intrepid Wind Farm

The Intrepid Wind Farm, in Iowa, is an example of one wind farm where the environmental impact of the project has been minimized through consultation and co-operation:

"Making sure the wind farm made as gentle an environmental impact as possible was an important consideration. Therefore, when MidAmerican first began planning the Intrepid site, they worked closely with a number of state and national environmental groups. Using input from such diverse groups as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy, Iowa State University, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, MidAmerican created a statewide map of areas in the proposed region that contained specific bird populations or habitats. Those areas were then avoided as site planning got underway in earnest. In order to minimize the wind farm's environmental impact even further, MidAmerican also worked in conjunction with the Army Corp of Engineers, to secure all necessary permits related to any potential risk to wetlands in the area. Regular inspections are also conducted to make certain that the wind farm is causing no adverse environmental impact to the region." [" ['s_intrepid_wind_farm1.htm Wind Power: MidAmerican's Intrepid Wind Farm] ." "Environmenal Psychology". 2006]


In Massachusetts, two proposed wind farms have had approval difficulties. The Cape Wind project, a proposal to construct 130 offshore wind turbines in the Nantucket Sound, is the subject of heavy debate [ [ - Wind Farms ] ] in the affluent communities of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket as well as among environmentalists. The Hoosac Wind project, which plans to build 20 turbines on two ridgelines in the rural towns of Florida and Monroe, was initially the subject of little official controversy, but has been delayed by a suit to protect wetlands. []

ee also

*American Wind Energy Association
*National Wind
*Cooperative Research and Development Agreement
*Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
*List of wind farms
*Liberty Wind Turbine
*Renewable energy in the United States
*Wind farm
*Wind power


External links

** [ Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy]
** [ and Hydropower Program Web site] .
* [ Wind Energy: Coming of Age] , WBGU-PBS documentary about Bowling Green, Ohio turbines
* [ Tilting at Windmills]
* [ Danish windmill blade maker to open U.S. factory]
* [ FPL Energy to Add 10,000 MW of Wind Power by 2012]
* [ First death of a U.S. wind farm worker recorded]
* [,1,7587612.story More farmers seeing wind as cash crop]
*cite web | url = | title = Wind Farm Buffets Family, Town Relations by David Baron | accessdate = 2008-04-09
* [ U.S. Wind Industry Installs 1400 MW of Wind Power in First Quarter 2008]
* [ Research finds wind power poses least risk to wildlife]
* [ Plans advance for first U.S. offshore wind farm]
* [ Wind Development in New York State (Wind Power Law Blog)]
* [ Surpassing expectations: State of the US wind power market]

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