A new report from the US Department Of Energy entitled “Enabling Wind Power Nationwide” says advances in wind power technology and deployment will continue to make wind power cheaper and more accessible, making it possible to achieve utility scale levels of renewable wind power in all 50 states by 2030.
According to Think Progress, giant wind turbines that reach stronger winds high above the ground will be the key to unlocking previously untapped resources, primarily in the Southeastern U.S. where wind speeds tend to be lower. On May 18, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said that “by producing the next generation of larger and more efficient wind turbines, we can create thousands of new jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as we fully unlock wind power as a critical national resource.”
At present, the standard height for most wind turbines is 260 feet, but turbines up to 400 feet are already common in parts of Europe. The Energy Department is working with turbine manufacturers to develop new turbines that are between 360 to 459 feet tall with blades 200 feet long. These new turbines could bring wind power to states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia — all of which currently lack commercial wind power.
The DOE report claims that increasing wind power nationwide from 4.5% today to 20% of total production would create 400,000 jobs and result in billions of dollars in property tax payments to local governments. Reducing carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fueled generating plants would provide as much as $30 billion a year in economic benefits the country as a whole.
“This report is great news for consumers, job-seekers, rural communities and many others in these states that have yet to fully benefit from American wind power,” said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan. “Wind turbine technology has advanced in just a few decades from the Model T era to more like that of a Tesla Model S. Advanced towers, blades and improved electronics to operate and maintain the turbines are all part of this revolution.”
“What’s so exciting to me about tall towers is the way it opens new regions for wind development,” says Jacob Susman, CEO and founder of OwnEnergy, a wind energy development company. “Imagine if Louisiana could get its wind from right there on the Bayou, instead of having to import it from neighbor states. That’s the power of tall towers. This is a big advancement for the industry.”
As the cost of electricity from fossil fuels continues to climb, electrical energy from renewable sources will not only benefit the environment, it will drive down the cost of monthly utility bills for all Americans.
Annoyingly, large scale deployment of renewables will depress the costs for fossil fuels, which will allow more to be used before being replaced by more efficient and ecologically sound replacements. The good part is that extraction costs continue to go up, so more will be left in the ground. With some luck we might beat the ecological mess that we seem so bent to get to.