February 24, 2010

Wind Energy Potential Triples

The last estimate of our nation's wind energy potential was conducted in 1993 and the estimate was that we had the wind energy potential to generate 11 million GWh of electricity per year. 

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory just released a new report that estimates that our wind energy potential is actually 37 million GWh of electricity per year. 

Just to put those numbers in perspective, our nation uses about 4 million GWh of electricity per year, of which only about 55 thousand GWh is so far generated by wind power. 

Most of the increase comes about as a result of technical improvements in wind power technology. Wind turbines are larger and more importantly, taller. Wind speeds are faster at higher elevations and the taller, larger towers can capture more energy than the typical 1993 installations. 

This is a very interesting lesson when considering folks who will tell you that the switch to renewable energy can't be done. 

Next time you hear the naysayers telling you it can't be done, let them know that we've tripled our wind power capacity just by the very fact that we've started working on creating the future we want to live in. 

PS: For the technically minded - The power generated by a wind turbine is proportional to the square of the length of the rotor blade and to the cube of the wind velocity! 

PPS: Knowing that, take a look at this map of wind energy in Massachusetts. You'll see why they keep talking about Cape Wind. 

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