Wind Power Energy Skyrockets in the U.S.

June 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Clean energy is something that has received a big kick in the tuchus over the last decade or two with the realization that we need more energy sources and ones that don’t have side effects. Because of this, the amount of usable energy from wind is now more than 10 times what it was at the turn of the century and capacity continues to grow. The country now has the ability to produce as much as 61,000 megawatts of electricity. That would roughly power 600 million homes… basically every single home in the United States and then some. So why don’t we?

First off, here is the wind capacity from each state across the country…

Minnesota is ranked 11th in overall capacity with California and Texas leading the way and we continue to grow with more planned wind farms in the years to come. In fact, some estimate that overall wind capacity could double again by the year 2020 with advancements in technology and added wind farms. Minnesota would be at the forefront of that with the southern and western part of the state in some of the most wind rich land in the U.S. Look at the average wind speed across the country…

Pretty easy to pick up on the areas that have more wind… they extend from south to north across the western high plains where some spots average a wind speed of more than 8 meters per second. Every spot you see in yellow on this map is a location where wind farms can harness enough energy to make them worth the initial cost of building and maintenance. Technology continues to improve to the point where slower and slower wind speeds will be able to harness just as much energy. Check out a closer look at Minnesota…

It is clear that southern and western parts of the state are optimal areas for wind farms because of strong winds and very little trees. These areas already have at least a couple hundred wind turbines with more to come. So back to the original question, when we can power every home in the country with wind energy, why don’t we???

Well, there are two reasons… first, there is the capacity for 60,000 megawatts of energy, but with wind speeds constantly changing, the likelihood of ever hitting that capacity is next to zero. Some days will be windy while others are calm, so there is never a steady and realiable stream of energy at play. Second, the current U.S. infrastructure is not built to ingest this much energy from remote areas. Power is funneled through high energy lines that stem from power plants and substations that are then transferred to homes and businesses. But most of these wind farms are far away from large cities and towns. So new high energy transmission lines have to be installed to get all of that energy to larger cities, and unfortunately right now, that just isn’t feasible because it’s too expensive. It would likely take hundreds of billions of dollars to get every major city in the country hooked up to high powered transmission lines from area wind farms. Even with a perfect working economy, that would take time… and lots of it! In fact, there is already a proposed 1.7 billion dollar plan to transport Iowa wind energy to the city of Chicago and points east, but has yet to get approved. This one line could power nearly 1.5 million homes, basically most of Chicago, northern Indiana, and parts of Ohio that would be on this line. Hopefully, future investments make it possible for many more lines to be developed that could create a real future for renewable energy.

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