This is a cross-post from the Department of Energy’s Daniel Wood and Paul Lester.
Wind power is growing rapidly in America. In fact, wind has accounted for 33 percent of all newly installed electricity generation capacity in the years spanning from 2006 to 2013. The United States now gets about 4.6 percent of its electricity from wind power. But how can this pattern of strong growth continue and how will a thriving wind industry help the public and improve the environment?
Our new Wind Vision Report seeks to answer those questions and more, using data from a team of researchers, academics, scientists, engineers and wind industry experts to map out the future of wind energy in the U.S. The report explores the potential growth of wind energy in the coming decades, and reveals how our nation could benefit if wind provided up to 35 percent of our power by 2050.
Key findings from the report include:
- The price of wind energy is projected to be directly competitive with conventional energy technologies within the next decade.
- Wind energy could be a viable source of renewable electricity in all 50 states by 2050.
- Wind energy could support more than 600,000 jobs in manufacturing, installation, maintenance and supporting services by 2050.
- Wind energy could save $508 billion from reduced pollutants and $280 billion in natural gas costs by 2050.
- Wind energy could save 260 billion gallons of water that would have been used by the electric power sector by 2050.
As part of the report, an exhaustive analysis was conducted to understand what the wind industry could look like decades from now based on changing electricity demand, fuel prices, wind power costs and transmission infrastructure. We created an interactive map of the resulting data points on potential future wind power capacity and discovered some fascinating trends.
- Wind energy could expand to new areas. Taller wind towers with larger rotors will make it possible to generate power from more consistent winds found at higher altitudes. This will enable states without strong winds — such as those in the Southeast — to build new wind farm projects in areas that traditionally have not benefitted from this clean energy source.
- Offshore wind could be big. Offshore wind has the potential to become a major source of clean, renewable energy for coastal communities across the nation. America already has a number of ports that could be modified to support offshore wind development.
- Strong wind states could add even more wind power. Wind power could grow significantly in states with strong wind resources like Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Montana as wind technologies improve and become more efficient thanks to continued investments in research and development.