Wind Energy: 20 Percent of U.S. Electricity By 2030?

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The U.S Department of Energy has released a new Wind Energy report. The report analyzes wind resources and technology requirements, as well as hurdles to the manufacturing, siting and transmission, with the aim of increasing the use of clean and sustainable wind power.

The Department of Energy wants to provide up to 20 percent of the US’s total electricity needs by 2030. The report, titled “20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030,” identifies all of the requirements needed to achieve that goal. It includes reducing the cost of wind technologies, new transmission infrastructure, and how to enhance domestic manufacturing capability.

It identifies opportunities for avoiding the creation of 7.6 cumulative gigatons of CO2 by 2030. It says 825 million metric tons can be saved in 2030 and every year after that, assuming that wind energy actually contributes 20% to electricity generation.

wind energy into the future.
Wind energy into the future.

Advanced Energy Initiative

In 2006, President Bush announced an Advanced Energy Initiative. That initiative included the use of “clean, secure and sustainable wind energy.” The DOE says wind has the potential to play “an increasingly important role in the Bush Administration’s long-term energy strategy to make investments today to fundamentally change the way we power U.S. homes and businesses and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions growth by 2025.”

“DOE’s wind report is a thorough look at America’s wind resource, its industrial capabilities, and future energy prices, and confirms the viability and commercial maturity of wind as a major contributor to America’s energy needs, now and in the future. To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary, and will require us to take a comprehensive approach to scaling renewable wind power, streamlining siting and permitting processes, and expanding the domestic wind manufacturing base.” – Andy Karsner, DOE Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Potential for Wind in the U.S.

Within the report is an in-depth analysis of the potential for wind in the U.S. According to the contributors, there is potential to greatly increase wind power generation from 16.8 gigawatts currently, uo to 304 gigawatts by 2030.

The department’s report was prepared by staff at the U.S. Department of Energy as well as a broad cross section of stakeholders across industry, government, and three national laboratories – the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA; and Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM.

The technical part of the report included information that came from the expertise of the American Wind Energy Association and Black and Veatch engineering consultants. It also reflects contributions from more than fifty energy organizations and corporations.

Many things must be changed an improved to make this 20 percent target a reality. Better transmission infrastructure, streamlined siting and permitting regimes, and improved reliability and operability of wind systems is required. U.S. jobs will also get a boost by expanding wind manufacturing capacity.

Report Components

Here are four main components of the report:

  1. Annual installations must increase more than threefold. Achieving 20 percent wind will require the number of annual turbine installations to increase from approximately 2000 in 2006 to almost 7000 in 2017.
  2. Costs of integrating intermittent wind power into the grid are modest. 20 percent wind can be reliably integrated into the grid for less than 0.5 cents per kWh.
  3. No material constraints currently exist. Although demand for copper, fiberglass and other raw materials will increase, achieving 20 percent wind is not limited by the availability of raw materials.
  4. Transmission challenges need to be addressed. Issues related to siting and cost allocation of new transmission lines to access the Nation’s best wind resources will need to be resolved in order to achieve 20 percent wind.

“The report correctly highlights that greater penetration of renewable sources of energy – such as wind – into our electric grid will have to be paired with not only advanced integration technologies but also new transmission. In many cases, the most robust sources of renewable resources are located in remote areas, and if we want to be able to deliver these new clean and abundant sources of energy to population centers, we will need additional transmission.” – DOE Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Kevin Kolevar.

Wind: Second Largest Source of New Power Generation

The Department says the U.S. now leads the world in new wind installations, and there is the potential for the U.S. to be the world leader in total wind capacity by 2010.

In 2007, U.S. cumulative wind energy capacity was 16,818 megawatts – with more than 5,000 MW of wind installed during the year. That was more than 30 percent of the new U.S. generation capacity, making it the second largest source of new power generation in the nation. Only new natural gas plants generated more than wind. The wind energy industry invested around $9 billion in new generating capacity in the year, a 30 percent annual growth rate over the past 5 years.

Visit the DOE website for more on the DOE Wind Program.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.