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Published on April 7th, 2015 | by Joshua S Hill


America Wind Energy Association Predicting “Wind Rush”

April 7th, 2015 by  

The American Wind Energy Association has been doing its job well, of late, publicizing America’s leading position in the global wind energy industry, and a new press release published at the end of March announces a “wind rush” is currently “underway across much of America as new turbines access higher wind speeds, opening new areas for development.”

Specifically, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) points to a “wind rush” in areas such as the Great Lakes states and the Southeastern US, thanks to taller wind turbines being able to access steadier and faster wind speeds at higher altitudes, creating more economically viable sites.

“Wind turbine technology has advanced in just a few decades from the Model T era to more like that of a Tesla,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “Taller towers, longer blades and improved electronics to operate and maintain the turbines are all part of this revolution.”

“Every year, our industry makes wind turbines that are better, smarter, safer and more powerful,” said Chris Brown, President of Vestas-American Wind Technology. “Those innovations are bringing down the levelized cost of wind energy for American consumers. But we’re not done yet. Our goal each day is to keep working to bring wind on par with other traditional energy technologies in the near term.”

Not only are turbines growing taller to reach higher altitude winds, but wind turbine blades are growing longer as well.

And according to the AWEA, the price of wind energy is dropping as a result of these innovations, with the levelized cost of wind energy dropping by 58% in just five years, according to the most recent study by Wall Street financial advisory firm Lazard.

More about America’s wind energy is expected to be focused on in the upcoming release of the AWEA US Wind Industry Annual Market Report, which will receive full coverage here on CleanTechnica.

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

  • nullbull

    It appears that people are slowly discovering a simple fact – on one side are producers with marginally lower energy production costs, who benefit from massive subsidy under increasing scrutiny, externalized costs that are not sustainable, and highly volatile fuel prices. On the other, producers with marginally higher energy production costs which are falling incrementally by the year, and no fuel costs at all forever.

    I will enjoy watching the reddest of states accept the economic inevitability of wind, with their politicians never admitting their predictions and policy suggestions affecting the same were flat wrong for well over a decade, hoping that they can quietly continue in their posts even though their previous “leadership” was proven wrong where it wasn’t simply ignored.

    Oh, and they’ll still be larding subsidies on fossil fuels, hoping nobody notices. And no one will hold to account their previous decades’ dire predictions of the failure of renewables or blithe dismissal of climate change.

  • Bob_Wallace

    No, ALEC is a right-wing organization funded by entities such as Exxon and Koch.

    ALEC is working, as quietly as possible, to change laws at the state level to help the fossil fuel, tobacco, pharma and other industries.


    And you might be interested to see a list of corporations who have dropped ties to ALEC after their true nature was revealed.


    • Interesting. But doesn’t that prove my point? Even with the Koch brothers – the dreaded KOCH BROTHERS!!! – in this the most Republican of states, where not one single statewide office is blue, Alec was unable to prevent Republicans from increasing incentives for clean energy last year. Don’t you see that your evil R vs sainted D worldview is just incompatible with reality?

      • Bob_Wallace

        I’m not sure where you got the idea that I think all Texans or all Republicans are boneheads. Many of the people in Austin are lovely people and Republican governors have gone to bat for wind energy. There are even some Republicans who think that all Americans deserve equal treatment.

        The problem for those of the Texan or Republican persuasion is that bone-heads tend to be concentrated into those two groups.

  • Bob_Wallace

    I don’t hate Texas.

    I do admit a large amount of disdain for some of your citizens. The sort who vote for people like Rick Perry and Ted Cruz.

    Racial epitaphs? That’s the only time I’ve ever seen knuckledragger used exclusively for people with a high melanin content. I’ve only heard it used for those who are intentionally stupid, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

    And I grew up in the segregated South in the 1940s and 1950s. I’ve heard far more than my share of racial epitaphs.

    • “I don’t hate Texas.”

      So, just me then. And I guess Urban Dictionary for defining your favorite racist term, for which you didn’t apologize even after people pointed out how insulting it is. Got it.

      • Bob_Wallace

        If you’re responsible for Rick Perry and Ted Cruz then, yes, you do not get a position on the list of my favorite people.

        As for the Urban Dictionary definition you found, it appear to be an outlier. Let me give you some examples….

        Urban Dictionary – main definition

        “Reminiscent of the hunched over cave man, with his arms to the ground. An insult used against those of extremely low intelligence, or general stupidity.”

        Under that are a list of related terms which include both black and non-racial words (snowboarder, rustic American),

        The Online Slang Dictionary –

        “a snowboarder. Insulting depending on context.”

        “an unintelligent person. One resembling a lower primate or un-evolved human.”

        “an unrefined person. One resembling a lower primate or un-evolved human.”

        No mention of race.


        The Oxford Dictionary

        “A stupid or loutish person.”

        No mention of race.



        “(idiomatic, often derogatory) A large, strong, and rather dimwitted person.”

        No mention of race.

        Actually, having heard a lot of racial epithets thrown around and never having heard the term used in a racial way, I suspect this might be a recent corruption of the more common meaning. Or it may just be some jerks posting on the Urban Dictionary site.

        But seeing that the use of that term seems to put you in high dudgeon I’ll replace it in my vocabulary with anther term for those who think they know “the real truth” even when there are piles of evidence proving them wrong and those who put their personal greed ahead of the common welfare.

        What would you suggest? Perhaps “right-wing a-holes”? Something quicker to type?

      • eveee

        a phrase or statement written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone.

        an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned.

  • TheVirtualWriter

    The thing that bothers me about this article and this desire to go higher (sounds like the old drill deeper mantra) is that it still keeps energy cost in the hands of the monopolistic energy suppliers like ComEd. I look forward to improved gear box and generator technology that will increase the output by a factor of two for mid-scale turbines while reducing the use of energy inside the facilities through energy-saving technologies. If we are to break the monopoly of the energy companies, we will do it with on-site standalone turbines that give corporations and communities a real choice.

    • Jenny Sommer

      You can buy used turbines but I doubt you will gain any advantage over big wind. A standalone kite system with battery could some day get viable in remote locations. X-wind from Germany has a linear power kite track system.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Almost nowhere has good, clean, strong wind close to the ground.

      Small wind is a myth. Not much power for ones money.

      • TheVirtualWriter

        Jenny Sommer and Bob_Wallace, Not sure how you came up with the facts to back your comments. Today, I can sell you a refurbished and renovated wind turbine in the 600 kW range for around $1.5 per Watt. The turbine’s has been given a reset on its life cycle sells, and it has a pay off time of between 7 and 10 years. The cost of the electricity remains inflation free and after the payoff, the electricity is free. The fact that the electricity remains inflation-free is, in itself, an advantage. For example, the Illinois legislature just approved a bill that will allow ComEd to raise its rates two years in a row – that in itself, makes our refurbished and renovated turbines an even better value and the customers do not have to wait for someone to invent a big kite.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Show us a performance curve.

          Actual production over time, not something computer generated.

          Also give the installed cost, shipping, tower, labor, etc. included. Let’s see some real numbers.

          • TheVirtualWriter

            The siting cost is ranges from between $.50 to $.75 per Watt, depending on site factors. Hard to give you a production curve since it is a new installation, but the curve will be roughly the same it was in similar wind in its previous location. So, now give me evidence that small wind is a myth for on-site standalone applications. I don’t want your opinion – I want data.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Look, if you’re hawking small wind for standalone/off grid use then you may or may not have a product that is worth buying. Since you don’t have a production curve in hand I’d be hesitant to do business with you. I’d go with one of the companies who have a track record and data.

            I have neighbors who use wind, I don’t. They have good wind sites, I don’t.

            If you’re trying to suggest that small turbines compete with large commercial turbines or would produce low enough cost electricity to tempt people to leave the grid (outside of very expensive areas such as Australia) then you’re blowing smoke.

            If you’ll take a look at the article and the conversation, this is about big time wind, bringing cheap electricity to the grid, not niche wind.

          • TheVirtualWriter

            Bob, I get that the article is about big wind, and about going higher for stronger winds. My point is that instead of producing mega farms, we should have the goal of breaking the monopoly of large energy companies. We gain little or nothing regarding energy costs by going higher in the sky as long as we buy our electricity from energy companies who are guaranteed a profit irrespective of how poorly they manage their business.

            The electricity produced by large wind farms typically goes onto the grid and makes it to the customers of the large energy companies at a cost that is essentially out of the hands of the customer. There are exceptions to the rule, but I am more interested in changing that one rule. And I do not see where having mile high mega farms is a solution to the escalation of costs. As I recall, nuclear power plants built by these electrical companies were supposed to provide us with lower cost electricity.

            To reply to your comment, let me assure you we not only have a product worth buying, but our product offers the best value in renewable energy. Our refurbished turbines are typically Vestas / NEG turbines that were taken down from sites in Denmark and The Netherlands and replaced with larger turbines. They have been completely inspected, refurbished, and updated with new technology in the gearbox, blades painted, and the control system upgraded to make our turbines considerably better than they were in their original condition. And while our turbines do not produce sufficient energy for a company to leave the grid, they do produce enough energy to pay for themselves in 7 to 10 years. After the payoff, the energy from our turbines is practically free. And during the payoff, the energy is inflation free. How is that not a good thing for companies who want to contribute to the improvement of the environment while stabilizing their energy costs?

            The “blowing smoke” comment was disrespectful. Try your best not to be that way and your argument will have more credibility.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” (break) the monopoly of large energy companies.”

            We have to admit that there is no way to be served by multiple sets of “wires”. Someone is going to own the local grid.

            Now, I would agree the local grid owner should not be given the right to own all the generation and charge what they like. We used to use that model and still do in some places, but that two-level monopoly stuff needs to go away. Any company that wishes to sell electricity should be given fair and equitable access to the grid. We’ve got that model operating in some areas.

            Since we are going to have to use single-ownership for the grid then we need good regulations which determine quality and cost of service.

            If you think you can compete with multi-MW turbines on 80 to 120 meter towers then put some up and get into the game. Get back to us if you can stay in business for a few years.

            And, please, if you want to sell product then purchase some ad space.

          • TheVirtualWriter

            I wasn’t trying to sell machines, I am trying to introduce a concept that business can purchase a stand along, on site refurbished wind turbine and make it economically preferable over buying power from an electric company who can, in some areas, raise rates damn near at will. I keep thinking about Enron and how they made rolling brownouts to teach California a lesson and how those brownouts caused so many businesses to go out of business. Now, the turbines I think of for warehouses, small manufacturers, schools and universities, etc. are mid scale turbines and they do not have to buy a new turbine, they can purchase a used, refurbished and renovated turbine and make it work for them economically.

            You are right about regulations but that seems to be a dirty word in this political climate and that is a subject for another day. Needless to say, I am for regulating the energy companies if they want to have monopolies. Thank you for the nicer post.

          • Ulenspiegel


            to argue for smaller turbines in order to get more energy demoracy is a little bit weird in the eyes of a German from Lower Saxony. 🙂

            Here Frisean farmers sell their small systems to Polish customers and replace them with much larger systems, usually in 3 GW class.

            IMHO your argument that energy demogracy is facilitated by smaller systems is wrong. You have to build smaller farms which are owned by energy cooperatives, the turbines could be larger economic ones.

          • TheVirtualWriter

            Companies, schools, small communities should be able to produce their own electricity at a cost that is inflation free and not have to depend upon the major energy companies who own our electrical infrastructure. But the cost of the newer large scale wind turbines is prohibitive in the US – especially for the companies and organizations I speak of. Ulenspiegel, gaining control of our energy supply in the US is damn near impossible. We are a nation that believe a person has more rights to carry a concealed weapon into a church or movie theater than they do to have affordable health care. So, having lived in Europe for four years, I might advise you against apply European logic to our mad house.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sure. They should make their own electricity if it makes economic sense.
            Rooftop solar generally makes sense. Communities owning a good sized wind turbine might make sense in some situations.

          • Hans the Elder

            The grid is a natural monopoly and should be in public hands or very strictly regulated. Generation and retail should be opened to the free market, as has been done in Europe. Just make sure that power generation companies don’t own the grid. They will always abuse their power as grid operator to hinder competition.

          • TheVirtualWriter

            I lived in The Netherlands for four years which may be why I have a different perspective on the ownership of certain necessities.. The grid should be nationalized and maintained through taxes paid for by the energy providers. We should then be able to buy our power from anyone who wants to sell it to me. But we Americans prefer monopolies for some reason.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Look at what I found. A US wind map at 140 meters.

    Stretch those towers and let’s make wind even cheaper.

    • Jenny Sommer

      You know my answer to that 😉

    • Matt

      On my, that is almost everywhere! And at 140m each turbine would be a big lady. So they get spread out. Now just need to stop these messed up set back in farm country where they want to switch from be set backs from house to property lines. In order to take all smaller farms out of the picture.
      Bob any change of getting this up on the wind fact page?

  • Bob_Wallace

    This article should have included the new 96 to 100 meter wind map. I’ll attach it along with the 80 meter map.

    There’s a lot of good green stuff in the SE if one just reaches up a bit higher. And Mexico is now using concrete towers that go up to 120 meter hub height. Concrete tower sections are easier to transport to site and can be produced close to the wind farm site.


    Getting up really high with very long blades may mean that we won’t need to use a lot of long distance transmission.

    • eveee

      Bob – look at the light blue section off the Coasts of California and Oregon. The highest wind speeds anywhere in the continental US. Floating offshore wind could unleash that. That could be a game changer.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Right. And I’m pretty sure it will be a game changer. Floaters off Hawaii and floaters being tested out in Oregon in the next few months. Things are getting started.

        Every once in while I take a look on this page. Ususally the west coast winds are making the mid-continental winds look puny.


      • Jenny Sommer

        It would be even cooler if we could go much higher and use no towers at all.
        Thats 120m vs. 600m (which is a start).
        The upper Troposphere has to be the goal.

        • Matt

          Kites get in the way of airplanes, so not likely soon.

          • Jenny Sommer

            A no-flightzone has never been an issue with nuclear plants. I bet it wouldn’t be very different for a Kitegen Carousel if I was to invest 1,5B€ in a 5GW plant.

    • Aku Ankka

      Wow. That is indeed excellent news! Thank you for sharing these images, good to keep up to date with latest data.

    • Matt

      Two thumbs up for taller towers in more states! So less long distant transmission needed.

    • Larmion

      “Getting up really high with very long blades may mean that we won’t need to use a lot of long distance transmission.”

      You make that sound as if that’s a clear, definite positive. I’ve yet to see figures claiming that the added cost of building taller turbines in less windy areas outweighs the cost of transmission.

      And even ignoring cost, there’s also the environmental side: is the embodied energy of a transmission line larger or smaller than that of the extra material needed to build larger, less productive (relative to top class areas) turbines?

      It’s something I’d really like to see a good study on. I haven’t yet seen any.

      • Bob_Wallace

        We’re talking making the towers 20 meters higher.

        The option is hundreds of miles of transmission and some power loss.

  • sault

    Good news, but the industry’s fate is also tightly bound to politics. The bafoonery involved with the on-again-off-again production tax credit really did a number on installations in 2013. The artificially low price of natural gas also makes things more difficult for wind power to stand out in the short term. However, if the AWEA is right in its predictions, wind power may be getting cheap enough on its own that these factors don’t matter as much as they did before.

    At the state level, installations can come to a grinding halt for an indefinite period through ridiculous setback requirements like those put in place by Gov. Scott Walker and his allies in Wisconsin. Should the natural gas boom start to go bust, we will see many more laws like this as the traditional fossil fuel heavyweights buy up more politicians and craft model bills via ALEC for them to sign. They aren’t going down without a fight no matter how much they howl about the “free market” and “liberty” to our faces.

    • Aku Ankka

      Then again, perhaps natural gas bust could limit funds available and even clout? I mean when money’s flowing as profits, it is easier to finance that lobbying machine. So while at first there may be increase due to desperation, it is possible that longer slump could actually reduce lobbying. No one wants to lobby for losers, esp. in US.

      The part about US Southeast is interesting — so far many articles have categorically stated that Florida and Georgia have no on-shore wind resources (and rest of deep South, east of Texas, very little as well).
      If that part of Wind Atlas is to get updated due to taller towers, longer blades, that would be great news.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Georgia. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the Southeast.
        New wind speed maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the greatly increased potential for wind energy development in Georgia with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height and are able to access better wind speeds, more areas become attractive for wind energy development within Georgia. The shading on the map above represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater.”


        • sault

          Never underestimate the power of tribalism. Just look at all the red states where wind energy potential is the highest and contrast that with the climate denial, favoritism towards fossil fuels and hostility towards clean energy the politicians from these states exhibit. With the kind of money that can be made in wind energy, opposition to the production tax credit from plains states / Midwestern representatives & senators is downright idiotic. But it still happens. Or just look at all the anti-solar goings on in Arizona. They are completely prepared to cut off their noses to spite their faces in this regard.

          There might be some bright spots and exceptions, but facts and economics tend not to matter to a lot of these people.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You know, as long as these knuckle-draggers install more and more wind and solar I find myself less concerned about what they say about climate change.
            If they want to claim that they’ve only installed renewables based on economics I could give a damn. Then when they start driving their EVs around while talking about how the temperature hasn’t changed since 1997/whenever, I’ll just smile.

            Almost all, if not all, US coal plants will die of old age before 2050. And we are almost certain to build no more. EVs will almost certainly become such a better economic deal that people will quit driving ICEVs before 2050.

            However we get to zero CO2 by 2050 is not as important as getting there. If Republicans want to claim that Ronald Reagan invented wind turbines and put solar panels on the White House roof, let them. Just as long as they move to clean energy along with the rest of us.

            Places like Arizona. They may hold off solar for a few years, but people in the state are going to force change as time goes along. Look at Georgia’s Green Tea Party. Saving money speaks to these people.

          • Matt

            Yes Bob, but in my dreams I still think of moving the RE “petal to the metal” with a carbon fee/dividend fund. It would help all the REs and EVs both. Yes Nukes would get some benefit; but not enough to likely extent their lives that much. With a head line line “Wind Rush” I expected AWEA to at least give some estimates for 2015 and maybe 2016 to justify the statement.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’d love to see a price on carbon but I don’t see it happening unless Democrats take back Congress and hold the White House. The Senate is possible but due to gerrymandering taking back the House would be very difficult.

            More likely we’ll see the Western and Northeast states implement carbon prices. China, lots of Europe, other places as well. Later on the Southeast and Midwest (and Russia) will follow along simply because economics will get them there, just slower.

            What we need right now is large markets that drive prices down. We need to be firming up our solar companies so that BoS prices fall. And we need to be selling a few million EVs a year to get battery manufacturing into top gear.

            (Gosh, I just realized that using some words like “top gear”, “clutch”, “starter”, “tail pipe” and “oil change” is going to date one later on. Like saying that someone kicked over the traces.)

          • Us “knuckle-draggers” in Texas generate 2½ times the wind power as the enlightened-yet-bankrupt folk in California. We also make it simple to financially support renewable energy – just a click on the Power To Choose website, and 100% of the power I use is offset by wind energy generation (and at less than 6 cents per kWh).

            I wonder why politics in the US is so polarized? Could it be… the vicious name calling? Didn’t you have a grandmother who could teach you how to play nice with others? Geesh.

          • Bob_Wallace

            California bankrupt? Quit getting misinformed by Fox and Rush.

            Why is US politics so polarized? Have you no knowledge of how Nixon’s Southern Strategy and Reagan’s follow up drove that wedge? The left finally got tired of turning the other cheek after letting the right slap them for decades.

          • super390

            Real estate is cheaper here in Texas and wind power needs optimal real estate. Blame the free market for reflecting the historically greater desirability of California as a place for people to live. I’d move from Houston to San Diego too if I could afford it. And I’d rather die than live in West Texas, which has vastly more usable wind resources sitting on flat plains instead of mountain passes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind needs minimal real estate. The total land use for a wind turbine is one quarter acre. That includes tower foundation, access roads, transmission and ancillary buildings.

            Parts of Texas have excellent wind resources. California has marginal onshore wind resources in very limited areas. CA is never going to generate as much onshore wind electricity as really windy places like northern Texas up through the middle of the nation.

          • Sure, geography matters. My point was simply that not only has a long-term Republican government not slowed the build-out of sustainable energy sources in Texas (using Democratic California as the yardstick), but the Texas energy market has been structured to readily fund this build out.

            I can power my old ranch house, my Leaf, and my electric mower with wind energy equivalents (indirectly), leaving a remarkably small effective carbon footprint.

            It just makes more sense to gauge people’s actions in a thoughtful light than to hurl racial insults and political generalizations at people with whom he disagrees.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Interested in reading about how the Texas legislature may be attempting to slow renewables in the state?



          • Hans

            “I wonder why politics in the US is so polarized?”

            Ever looked at your voting system? Replace your layered district voting and “winner takes all” with a direct voting system and your polarized two party system will change into a multi-party system where there is actually room for nuance.

          • super390

            So then we can end up like Canada, where a conservative party hijacked by a merger with Christian right-wingers who worship the US maintains a monopoly on power over FOUR left-of-center parties whose leaders hate each other’s guts, which power it uses to fast-track the dirtiest energy in the world? Money and fanaticism can betray any election system devised by man. Democracy is useless without equality.

          • Jason Willhite

            Agree with your comment, just not of your use of calling people ‘kunckle-draggers’.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What’s your favorite term for people who want to send us back into the last century? Who deny science, care not for the environment, care not for what they are doing for future generations?

          • Jason Willhite

            I’ve got names for them. I just don’t share them 🙂

          • super390

            Which implies certain other additional agendas to be revealed later.

        • Offgridman

          It looks like that shading just starts in Georgia and carries on up through Tennessee (yea home for me now), North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, following the Appalachian mountains, plus a lot of areas in the western half of the country.
          Lots of potential new areas for onshore wind, let’s get rid of the backward politicians that might try to prevent it, and as said in this area Get-Er-Done.
          With that much potential area, there must be enough places that won’t be contraindicated by migrating birds or NIMBY’s to produce a lot of electricity.

      • sault

        Political spending to get the best government money can buy will be one of the last things they’ll cut if prices slump. Lobbying and dark money have historically had a 50-to-1 return on investment for the fossil fuel companies. Should wind power start eating into natural gas demand, they’ll lay off millions of workers before they cut political spending. And at the very least, they’ll hold the jobs of these millions of workers hostage if they don’t get their way.

        • Aku Ankka

          Fair enough. I agree in that it is strategic investment for them, and certainly not just nice-to-have hobby.

          I still hope we will get to test this hypothesis (i.e. prices remain somewhat low for more than a year). I am just not quite as pessimistic on its effects. We shall see.

    • eveee

      Natural gas is facing some headwinds. There is a link between oil and gas. As oil wells decline, so does gas. For now its still cheap. Many are indicating it will not last.

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