Wind is a clean, inexhaustible source of domestic energy that can be transformed into electricity using a wind turbine. The intensity of wind varies by region and season. The best U.S. resources for utility scale wind farms are in the Midwest, Texas and the West, as well as offshore sites in the Great Lakes and off the Atlantic Coast. Electricity produced by turbines can be transported over transmission lines from the windy regions of the West and Midwest or offshore sites to populated cities with high energy demands.
Today’s wind turbines are available in a variety of sizes, with power ratings ranging from 250 watts to 6 megawatts (MW). Utility scale land-based turbines can have blades more than 45 meters long, and on average, a single 3 MW turbine can produce enough power to enough to power 1,500 homes. The cost can also vary widely, with large turbines costing more than $7 million, while small wind turbines sized for residences or small farms cost as little as a few thousand dollars up to $80,000.
The United States currently has over 65,879 MW in wind energy capacity, second only to China, but this renewable energy source represented only 4.4 percent of U.S. electricity supply in 2014 (Denmark met 39 percent of its electricity needs with wind in 2014). However, the use of wind energy is growing in the United States, with a twenty six-fold increase in MW produced since 2000. In May 2008, the Department of Energy released a report demonstrating that wind could contribute up to 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply by 2030.
U.S. investments in wind energy can bring multiple benefits. A one MW wind turbine can displace 1,800 tons of CO2 each year that would otherwise be emitted from burning fossil fuels. Alternatively, if that turbine were displacing nuclear energy, it would reduce water use by 60 million gallons per year. In addition, the wind industry creates domestic jobs, produces tax revenue, stabilizes energy prices and helps achieve energy independence. The federal government has provided incentives such as production and investment tax credits, along with research and development funds, which are critical for wind industry growth.
Learn more about Wind Power:
- Renewables Now Represent 20% of U.S. Generating Capacity (Up from 15% in 2012)
- Issue Brief - Trump FY2018 ‘Skinny’ Budget Proposal
- Bipartisan Push for Renewable Energy Led by Governors from Across the Nation
- Fact Sheet - Jobs in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (2017)
- New Renewable Capacity Outpaces Fossil Fuels and Nuclear for Second Straight Year
- The Path to 100% Renewable Energy in Hawaii
- “Revolution…Now” Report Reveals Vibrant Clean Energy Landscape
- 2016 ACORE Renewable Energy Policy Forum
- Issue Brief - Obama FY2017 Budget Proposal: Sustainable Energy, Buildings, Transportation & Climate
- Fact Sheet - Offshore Wind: Can the United States Catch up with Europe?