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US Wind Potential Higher Than Previously Estimated

New wind potential estimates for the lower 48 states based on windNavigator, AWS Truewind's high-resolution wind resource dataset have been released. The estimates were produced in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and they mark the first comprehensive state-level assessment of the onshore wind resource potential since 1993.

The increase in the potential estimates for the 80-m and 100-m heights compared to the 50-m height of previous estimates is significant.

According to Dennis Elliott, NREL’s principal scientist in wind resource assessment, “areas with gross capacity factor of 30% and greater are generally considered to have suitable wind resource for wind development with today’s advanced wind turbine technology. The new estimates for 80-m height and capacity factor of 30% and greater indicate about 10,500 gigawatts (GW) developable potential in the contiguous United States, compared to previous estimates of 7,000 to 8,000 GW for 50-m height and power Class 3 and greater.”

Using AWS' capacity factor maps, NREL estimated the potential wind plant rated capacity in megawatts for each state in various capacity factor ranges. Lands that are unlikely to be developed due to environmental protections, incompatible land use, or other factors that may impact development such as steep slope were excluded from the final estimates.

According to Michael Brower, AWS Truewind's CTO, the new estimates are directly relevant to the needs of today’s wind industry. “The estimates indicate the power output that would be produced by today’s commercially available wind turbines with hub heights of 80 m to 100 m,” said Brower. “We believe they will provide critical support to state and federal policy makers working to stimulate wind energy development in the United States."

Click here to see the new wind resource map.

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