EcoGeek has a post on a new NREL study on the potential for wind power in the US - U.S. Could Generate 37 Million GWh of Wind Power Per Year.
For those in the wind power business, or those considering jumping in, last week brought some big news. A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the U.S. could theoretically generate 37 million gigawatt-hours of wind power per year, triple the amount previously thought.
The last study of wind power potential, completed in 1993, came up with an energy potential of about 10.8 million GWh. According to NREL, the reason for the dramatic jump is better wind technology (taller and more powerful turbines) and better data used in the assessment. In case you're wondering, environmentally-protected areas were not included as potential sites.
The new number is over 12 times the amount of energy we consume each year. Americans consume 3 million GWh of electricity each year and in 2008 only 52,000 GWh came from wind.
The study offers great new maps of wind energy potential across the country, highlighting areas with high wind speeds, access to transmission lines, cheap land and other major factors for would-be wind farm developers. The maps, created by Truewind, have a resolution of 650 feet, less than the spacing between turbines, so developers could use them not just to located the best area for an entire farm, but for each machine.