March 12, 2015

Wind Vision: A New Era For Wind Power In The United States

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March 11th | U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy is bullish on wind: “Increasing wind power can simultaneously deliver an array of benefits to the nation that address issues of national concern, including climate change, air quality, public health, economic development, energy diversity, and water security.” That is the conclusion of a new report issued today.

Wind is the fastest growing source of renewable electricity supply in this country and has tripled from 1.5 percent of annual electricity end use demand in 2008 to 4.5 percent in 2013. The report details long term economic benefits including cost savings, job growth and environmental benefits. The report modeled a future scenario in which 10 percent of the nation’s electricity demand is met by wind power in 2020, 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050.

There are significant risks of inaction:

Wind’s growth over the decade leading to 2014 has been driven largely by wind technology cost reductions and federal and state policy support. Without actions to support wind’s competitive position in the market going forward, the nation risks losing its existing wind manufacturing infrastructure and much of the public benefit illustrated by the Wind Vision analysis.

Already, large amounts of wind power are reliably and effectively part of our current electric power system. Two states, Iowa and South Dakota, generated more than a quarter of their power from wind. Seven other states, including Colorado and North Dakota, exceeded 12 percent of in-state power generation from wind in 2013.

A major challenge facing wind development is opposition to the transmission lines that carry wind power from where it is generated to where it is needed.  Inside Energy has reported extensively on this issue which creates, as the DOE puts it, “a bottleneck to cost-effective wind deployment.”