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Wind Twenty Percent By 2030

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The U.S. Department of Energy confirmed that by the year 2030 twenty percent of the U.S. generation of electricity will come from wind turbines.  This is a share of electrical generation equal to what the nuclear power provides us with electricity today.  More importantly, according to USDOE, this is not the top limit of what is achievable.

Coastal wind turbines.
Coastal wind turbines.

Coastal wind turbines. Their report indicates that there are no technological or macroeconomic barriers for continued growth in this sector.  The economic benefits alone include more income for landowners (and thus for communities) and more stability in electricity prices as a larger share of our electricity becomes immune to the impacts of fuel price volatility.  The report indicates that the current top four states in wind turbine farming are California, Texas, Iowa and Minnesota.  Texas is currently in the process of building the largest wind farm in the country.  Total electrical output from this farm will provide power to 250,000 homes.  Current issues with wind turbine placement continue to be ordinance height restrictions in municipalities and set backs from buildings.  Noise concerns from wind turbines has also caused ordinance restrictions to be placed on proximity to homes.  The reality according to USDOE is that the noise generated from the moving turbines is equal to the ambient noises found in suburban communities. Most turbines are found on farm land and ranches according to USDOE.  Commercial placement in industrial parks meet with less resistance in communities, and even those placed on school grounds have been found not to interfere with the school day.  USDOE’s report states that turbines can also emit some low-frequency sound, but that acoustical experts agree there is no evidence that such sounds, which are emitted by a variety of sources, could be harmful to health.  The only down side to the report is that USDOE does not state what they feel could be the maximum opportunity in wind powered electrical output in this country.  Could we go higher than 50%? Could solar, wind, and biofuels eventually eliminate our need for coal and oil powered electricity?  USDOE should come out and state whether we can achieve that based on what we know today.  We need to find a way to get there.

John Vlahakis


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