NREL Finds Wind Resources Higher than Initial Estimates

by | Feb 19, 2010

RESbystateThe National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s most recent assessment shows that U.S. wind resources are larger than previously estimated, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

A key finding of the new assessment shows that onshore U.S. wind resources could generate nearly 37,000,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, more than nine times current total U.S. electricity consumption. The previous national government survey, conducted by the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, estimated U.S. wind potential at 10,777,000 GWh.

This means that the potential capacity of America’s onshore wind resource is over 10,000 gigawatts (GW) and the U.S. is barely tapping into this resource with a current wind installed capacity of 35 GW in the U.S., according to AWEA.

The larger estimates are due to taller turbines, with winds measured at 80 meters, and more refined wind measurements. The top 10 windiest states are Texas, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Mexico with Indiana, Ohio and Oregon moving into the top 20 ranking for the first time.

In January, NREL reported that a shift to 20 percent or more of the Eastern Interconnection’s electrical load to wind energy is possible by 2024.

AWEA reports the U.S. wind industry in 2009 added nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new capacity, which is enough to power 2.4 million homes or generate as much electricity as three large nuclear power plants. The wind turbine fleet at the end of 2009 is more than 35,000 MW.

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