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Growth of wind power in the US has significant potential



The US has the potential to achieve the ambitious target of 30% of its energy requirement being met by wind power by mid-century, writes Guy Petheram.

The continued expansion of wind technology in the US could provide substantial benefits to the nation, says a report published by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The Wind Vision Report, which was released on Thursday, updates a 2008 analysis that looked at the future potential of wind power in the country.

The DOE collaborated with 250 industry experts, environmental organisations and government agencies to conduct the study. It analysed the scenario of wind power supplying 10% of national electricity requirements by 2020, 20% by 2030 and 30% by 2050.

José Zayas, who directed the study, said “Wind power sources are now seen as a viable and competitive source of electricity across the country…more than 4.5% of the nation’s electricity now comes from wind power, placing the industry at a cross roads.”

The sector has demonstrated the ability to scale up to meet demands and wind generation variability has minimal and manageable impact, the DOE found.  Environmental, and other challenges associated with wind technology, could also be effectively managed.

The report concluded that the ambitious scenario examined was achievable.  However, this would require continued efforts to reduce costs, an expansion of transmission capacity and effective strategies for working with local communities.

The overall benefits to the nation of expanding wind technology in line with the scenario set out in the study included $400 billion (£270bn) in avoided global damage from greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A 23% reduction in consumption of water by the electric sector, a 2% reduction in electricity costs and significant public health benefits were also projected.

Photo: cariliv via Flickr

Further reading:

Wind power vital for cutting import costs and improving energy resilience

World’s largest offshore wind farm approved for Yorkshire

‘Energetically sustainable’ wind power can provide surplus clean electricity

Wave energy has potential to be cheaper than wind

Wind farms an ‘attractive long-term’ investment opportunity


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