Wind energy has captured the eye of states across the U.S. The non-carbon footprint and cost benefits that come with wind produced electricity make it a major player in today’s energy market.
In 2017, U.S. renewable energy sources accounted for 11 percent of the total energy consumption, and roughly 17 percent of electricity generation, per the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Wind energy’s rapid development has played a role in these figures. Environment America Research and Policy Center released a report on July 18, titled Renewables on the Rise 2018. In their study, they discuss the untapped potential of wind energy. “Like solar power, energy from the wind is abundant. America has enough wind energy technical potential to supply the nation’s electricity needs 13 times over – and over the last decade, America has dramatically increased its use of this vast, emission-free energy resource.”
Some states have capitalized on wind energy more than others. According to that same study conducted by Environment America, the states that produced the most wind energy in 2017 were:
- Texas – 67,092 GWh
- Oklahoma – 24,404 GWh
- Iowa – 20,816 GWh
- Kansas – 18,501 GWh
- California – 13,971 GWh
Wind energy and its current state of affairs.
The U.S. currently has around 90,550 MW of installed wind capacity. This figure will eventually become a fraction of our future capacity at the rate that wind energy is growing. The affordability of wind energy makes it an even more valuable resource – which in turn has resulted in giant corporations like Ikea and others to invest heavily in wind turbines to power their warehouses.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to a U.S. Wind Industry Second Quarter 2018 Market Report from the American Wind Energy Association, the third quarter represents a significant growth of the installation of new wind projects with a 59% increase from quarter one (1032 MW) to quarter two (1,644 MW). Furthermore, the total of wind power capacity in construction and advanced development stands at 37,965 MW.
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To put things in perspective – 2.32 MW of wind energy is enough to power around 750 average homes.
That would mean that 1 MW is enough to power 323 homes. When we do the math for 1,644 MW, you’re looking at new wind farms just in the first three quarters of 2018 that can generate enough energy to power at least 531,465 more homes.
That number alone shows just how important the continued development of wind energy technology is. To see the what the future may look like for wind energy, we look no further than the Lone Star State itself.
Why Texas holds the top spot for wind energy production.
No other state is more important to the success of wind energy than Texas. Development in the Lone Star State has led to even more wind energy production. The EIA expects five gigawatts of new wind capacity to come online by the end of 2018. Texas will have 2 of the 5 GW, since it’s the state with the most wind capacity. There are only five other countries in the world that have more installed wind power capacity than Texas alone.
The secret to Texas’ success is their ability to utilize their transmission lines to move the electricity from remote wind farms located in rural areas to the state’s populated areas. That’s why most wind farms in Texas, such as the Roscoe Wind Farm, the Lone Star Wind Farm and others are located along the west and northwest areas of the state.
How the other four states match up to Texas.
When comparing 2017 wind energy production from Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and California to Texas – all four top wind energy ranked states fall drastically short.
According to the study we mentioned earlier from Environment America, Texas produced 67,092 GWh of wind energy in 2017. The four other states combined produced 77,692 GWh.
As states continue to take advantage of the latest wind energy technologies, the number of wind turbine farms will drastically grow. This is especially true for America’s Heartland, as most of the rural areas within these states have the space and winds ideal for wind turbine farms, while providing jobs for Americans in return.
Why we can’t forget about offshore wind farms.
The end of 2016 marked the first U.S. milestone in offshore wind production. Around that time, Block Island Wind Farm just off the coast of Rhode Island began operating and generating energy. Even though this particular wind farm only produces 30 MW, it still signals the first time that the U.S. dipped its toes into the offshore wind industry.
Further development has continued – due in large part to support from those in the legislation. In 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an energy legislation bill which called for 1,600 MW of new offshore wind by 2027.
Other states, such as New York and New Jersey, are also unveiling plans for offshore wind farms. According to Newsday, New York is set on producing 2,400 MW of capacity by 2028. New Jersey, on the other hand, is aiming even higher. According to Bloomberg, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state’s goal is to have 3,500 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.
Adding offshore wind farms enhances the future of wind energy, but nothing would be possible without onshore transmission lines. At the end of the day, the point of electricity generation is to consume it, which is why local infrastructure plays a major role in wind energy distribution and consumption.
With the proper infrastructure in place, cities can one day become fully dependent on wind energy.
States all across the nation have the potential for mass wind production thanks in large part to the infrastructure in place – which allows for wind generated electricity to travel. A major necessity for successful wind energy consumption is transmission lines. Without them, we’d probably be left in the dark.
Transmission lines take the electricity that is produced directly from the source to the distribution system through a substation. From here, the distribution system lowers the voltage power of the electricity, so that our homes and businesses can safely consume the electricity. None of this would be possible without the transmission lines that extend across many regions.
Consumption of renewable energy continues to grow rapidly, even though wind energy is currently a small player in today’s market. But its rapid development shows that one day it will become a staple in every state – mimicking the massive success of the wind energy market in Texas.