A Rising Wind: Better Tech Means Greater State Wind Potential

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For states looking to reduce their reliance on dirty, imported energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory brings good news on the wind. In a May 2015 report, significantly more wind power potential was found in nearly every state thanks to advancing turbine technology.

In 2015, 40 states could produce 50% or more of their annual electricity use from wind power alone, up from 28 just five years ago. Over two-thirds of states could produce 100% or more of their annual consumption from wind energy.

The following slideshow illustrates the progress since the release of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s 1991 study on the available windy land to the 2015 National Renewable Energy Laboratory study.

ILSR has been chronicling the opportunity for states to capture more of their energy dollar since the release of the original Energy Self-Reliant States report in 2008 (using 1991 data). In 2010, our landmark revision provided the first 50-state renewable energy atlas, and showed how two-thirds of states could meet 100% of their electricity needs with in-state renewable resources. The story keeps getting better, as new technology allows commercial scale wind turbines to capture ever more energy from even weaker resources.

States also have the opportunity to capture more of the energy dollars in their wind resource, with community wind projects like South Dakota Wind Partners or Green Energy Farmers.

Whether it’s a matter of renewably-generated power or local energy production, the wind is rising.

Photo credit: David Clarke via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

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John Farrell

John directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (energyselfreliantstates.org), and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at jfarrell@ilsr.org.

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