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Nation’s Wind Power Potential Assessed in DOE Report

On Tuesday, May 19, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the release of Enabling Wind Power Nationwide. The report is a comprehensive look at wind power potential across all 50 states and considers the impact of next generation wind turbines. It builds on March’s Wind Vision Report, which accounted for the economic, social, and environmental effects of expanding wind energy nationwide. Recently, wind generation has exploded – tripling its production in the last six years – and promises to play a crucial role in the American energy future. Read on for some key takeaways:

  • Using an advanced turbine concept and hub heights of 110 meters (which are already widely used in Europe), wind development is expected to increase by 54%. In the near future, hub heights of 140 meters will allow for a 67% increase from current technology.
  • New technology will not only bolster potential in regions currently using wind, but allow for turbines to expand into new areas. For example, as technology improves, lower wind speed sites, namely in the Southeast and Appalachia, will become feasible for development.
  • The report acknowledges that these new technologies do not come without challenges. It calls for investigating potential impacts on wildlife, habitats, and human use concerns. Continued studies on bat and bird interactions with wind plants are examples of this preventative research. Government, the industry, and other stakeholders must understand these issues and appropriately engage concerned parties.

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Sarah Litke