The newest generation of wind turbines, featuring taller towers and longer blades, have the potential to operate in all 50 states. Because of their design, these turbines can generate more power, and do so more efficiently, even in parts of the country, such as the Southeast, where wind is generally inconsistent and rather slow, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Department of Energy. The newer turbines, currently being developed by the DOE in partnership with some businesses, universities and national labs, could allow for the U.S. to dramatically expand its reliance on wind energy, which currently is responsible for almost 5 percent of the nation’s total electricity generation and is already being used in 39 states. That number could become 50, the report argues. Germany and other European nations already use wind turbines that are about 360 feet high. If the U.S. were to adopt 360-foot-tall turbines, instead of the 260-foot-tall ones that are currently used, that could mean an estimated 54 percent increase in sites offering technical potential for wind deployment in the U.S. The goal is to keep increasing the size of the turbines: At 460 feet, they would increase the technical potential of U.S. wind energy by an estimated 67 percent compared to current technology. The report comes amid rapidly growing investments in wind power, which has been credited with cutting more carbon dioxide emissions and conserving more water than other energy sources. According to a report released in March, the U.S. is on track to draw 35 percent of its electricity from wind power by the year 2050. The department’s goal is to increase reliance on wind energy to 10 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis