Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Wind Power

August 23, 2018

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Wind turbines are soaring to record sizes. The average rotor diameter of turbines installed in 2017 grew to 370 feet, up 135 percent since 1998–1999. | National Renewable Energy Laboratory photo

Wind turbines are soaring to record sizes. The average rotor diameter of turbines installed in 2017 grew to 370 feet, up 135 percent since 1998–1999. | National Renewable Energy Laboratory photo

This article is part of the Energy.gov series highlighting the "Top Things You Didn't Know About Energy" series. 

10. Human civilizations have harnessed wind power for thousands of years. Early forms of windmills used wind to crush grain or pump water. Now, modern wind turbines use the wind to create electricity. Learn how a wind turbine works

9. Today’s wind turbines are much more complicated machines than the traditional prairie windmill. A wind turbine has as many as 8,000 different components.

8. Wind turbines are big. Wind turbine blades average over 180 feet long, and turbine towers average more than 280 feet tall—about the height of the Statue of Liberty.

7. Higher wind speeds mean more electricity, and wind turbines are getting taller to reach higher heights above ground level where it’s even windier. See the Energy Department’s wind resource maps to find average wind speeds in your state or hometown and learn more about how taller wind turbines can expand developable areas for wind energy production in the Energy Department's 2015 Enabling Wind Power Nationwide report.

6. Most of the components of wind turbines installed in the United States are manufactured here. There are 500 wind-related manufacturing facilities located across 41 states, and the U.S. wind industry currently employs more than 105,000 people. 

5. Offshore wind represents a major opportunity to provide power to highly populated coastal cities, and the nation’s first offshore wind facility was installed off the coast of Rhode Island in 2016. See what the Energy Department is doing to develop offshore wind in the United States.

4. With North Carolina’s first utility-scale wind facility coming online in early 2017, there is now utility-scale wind power installed in 41 states. There is distributed wind installed in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

3. The United States’ wind power capacity was nearly 89,000 megawatts at the end of 2017, making it the largest renewable generation capacity in the United States. That’s enough electricity to offset the consumption of 24 million average American homes.

2. Wind energy is becoming more affordable. Wind prices for power contracts signed in the last few years and levelized wind prices (the price the utility pays to buy power from a wind farm) are as low as 2 cents per kilowatt-hour in some areas of the country. These prices are recorded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual Wind Technologies Market Report.

1. Wind energy provides more than 10% of total electricity generation in fourteen states, and more than 30% in four of those states—Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.