Partnered with AWS Truepower, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Energy Department’s Wind Program released maps in December 2014 that highlight the potential for wind energy development using more advanced wind turbine technologies with higher hub heights of 110 and 140 meters. The resource potential maps show that as wind turbine technology advances and can be installed at higher hub heights, areas with previously limited wind resources–such as the southeastern United States–have the opportunity to add new wind power capacity using taller utility-scale wind energy technologies.
The maps build on previous wind speed data to identify areas that have an average wind energy capacity factor greater than 35% for current and near-future wind technologies at hub heights of 110 and 140 meters, representing recent and planned turbine advancements, respectively. Since stronger and more consistent winds are typically found at higher heights, the Energy Department has been working with the wind industry to produce the next generation of larger wind turbines. It is estimated that enabling cost-effective deployment of next generation wind turbines with hub heights of 140 meters will unlock additional wind power resource potential across 1,137,565 square miles of the United States, nearly tripling the amount of developable land area for U.S. wind when compared with 2008 turbine technology.
The Southeastern Wind Coalition, a WINDExchange Regional Resource Center, is working to share the maps’ data with states, developers, manufacturers, and utilities in the Southeast and discuss the potential for additional wind development. As the Energy Department and industry continue to invest in research and development to increase the performance, efficiency, and reliability of next-generation wind power technologies, these new wind resource maps will serve as an important tool for future wind energy planning throughout the country.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.