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AWEA WINDPOWER 2015 Day One Report

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz delivers keynote address touting the technological advances in wind energy.

New wind resource maps are showing the ability for advanced wind turbines to reach stronger winds higher above the ground, unlocking a previously untapped wind resource area that the US Department of Energy (DOE) says could eventually bring wind energy development to every state in America. That was the gist of the keynote address delivered by US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz at the WINDPOWER 2015 Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., this morning.

The new report, “Enabling Wind Power Nationwide”, explains how new wind turbine designs are putting one of our largest domestic energy resources to use – the strong, consistent winds that can be found high above the ground in nearly all parts of the United States.

"Wind generation has more than tripled in the United States in just six years, exceeding 4.5 percent of total generation, and we are focused on expanding its clean power potential to every state in the country," Secretary Moniz said. "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."

Enabling Wind Power Nationwide builds upon the DOE’s Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power report released this past March, which shows wind energy can become one of America’s top electricity sources, and save consumers money while doing so.

Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), was quick to applaud the Secretary’s remarks, pointing out just a few of the ways Americans stand to benefit. “This report is great news for consumers, job-seekers, rural communities and many others in these states that have yet to fully benefit from American wind power,” Kiernan explained. “Wind turbine technology has advanced in just a few decades from the Model T era to more like that of a Tesla Model S. Advanced towers, blades and improved electronics to operate and maintain the turbines are all part of this revolution.”

According to Kiernan, the technological advances described by Secretary Moniz have redrawn the wind resource map, validating the opportunity for all states to host wind development. While America's wind resource is massive – enough to meet our electricity needs 10 times over, Kiernan notes – it remains largely untapped, Kiernan added.

Higher 'heights'

More than 1,000 American wind turbines are already accessing higher wind resources, with towers reaching 100 meters or more above the ground -- rather than the 80 meter height that has long been the industry standard for many years. Heights up to 120 meters or more are already common in Europe, allowing the stronger, steadier winds at that elevation to be tapped. At 110-meter hub heights, DOE expects the land area with physical potential for wind deployment in the US to increase 54 per cent, and at 140-meter hub heights the potential land area would increase 67 percent.

Advancement in turbine technology, including raising hub heights to 140 meters and lowering specific power, would open up an additional one-fifth of the land area of the United States for wind turbine locations, lighting up many parts of the country, especially the Southeast U.S.

According to DOE’s recently released Wind Vision report, select areas in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast are expected to see economical wind deployment for the first time due to this next generation of wind turbine technology. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and parts of Michigan and Minnesota.

Since 2008, advances in current wind turbine technology combined with 110 meter hub heights have doubled the geographic area where it is feasible to generate electricity, so that nearly half of the land area of the contiguous United States could be viable, according to DOE. When these technological advances were paired with wind resource maps validating the physical wind potential at 80-meter hub heights, project development in states like Indiana grew from 0 MW of wind capacity at the beginning of 2008 to more than 1,000 MW two years later and 1,744 MW today.

View the entire AWEA press release--which includes wind maps--online.


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Energy infrastructure  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Wind power