Monday, March 24, 2014


US Wind Generation Capacity by Year
in Megawatts of Installed Capacity

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the contiguous United States has the potential for 10,459 GW of onshore wind power. The capacity could generate 37 petawatt-hours annually, an amount nine times larger than current total U.S. electricity consumption.



Baydog said...

There should be windmills everywhere, on and offshore! They're easier on the eyes than electrical towers.

Tillerman said...

Blow, baby, blow!

George A said...

There's 5 in good ol' coastal Atlantic City. They power the city's water treatment plant. Big improvement over the old days when the toilets flushed twice a day, need it or not.

Tillerman said...

The big surprise to me on this map is that I always imagined that it was those granola-crunching Volvo-driving arugula-nibbling liberal elites on the coasts that were really into all this enviro global-warming save-the-planet stuff. And so I thought that wind power would be biggest on the coasts for that reason. Of course, this map is % of electricity generated from wind by state, not absolute megawatts. But, even so, it looks as if there is a lot of windpower generation in the "heartland." Who would have thunk it?

George A said...

A lot of those "elitists" types own fancy beach front McMansions and they don't want a bunch of windmills besmirching their personal view of the horizon. Also, there's a lot of blow-back from various environmental groups like the National Audubon Society. Their main beef is that the rotors of the windmills contribute to bird kill, particularly migratory species and night flying predators. I think my old alma mater, the University of Delaware has an on-going study to document the extent of bird kill caused by wind power and how to limit that problem. Perhaps the reasons why wind power generation is higher out in the heartland include attitudes in which and birds and rich people's views are low(er) priorities. Additionally, opinions concerning the esthetics of windmills are divided even in places such as Denmark where windmills are very common.

I think at one point a large wind farm which was proposed for Narragansett Bay was voted down citing esthetics, bird kill, hazard to navigation, impact of the downwind turbulence on yacht racing, environmental gobbilty-gook etc.

It's somewhat ironic that environmental impact is used as a reason to not permit wind energy use. It seems like a better idea than the continued used of fossil fuels or expansion of nuclear power, but then we used to think damming rivers to create hydroelectric power was "clean" and without unforeseen consequences until we realized the impact of dams on those rivers in terms of the various fisheries that depend on fish being able to complete the species' life cycle, habitat change for other species, down-river silting, water quality, etc. Truly, nothing is simple. Nothing done by humans is without consequences.

Tillerman said...

Good points George.

I don't think there has been a serious proposal to site a large wind farm inside Narragansett Bay but there has been a long running battle about a proposed wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts in Nantucket Sound. And opposition has come from groups concerned about birds and whales, and also from very rich folk like Bill Koch concerned about how a bunch of windmills on the horizon might hurt their eyes. See for example Koch Comes Clean On Dirty Opposition To Cape Wind.

There was an issue raised by the yachting community too. I know my friends at Hyannis YC were concerned about the impact of the proposed farm on some of the areas of the sound that they use for racing.

In the end all these aesthetic and environmental and recreational impacts have to be balanced against the benefits of shifting electricity generation to renewable resources.

George A said...

I stand corrected. I knew at one time that there was a proposed wind farm for somewhere along the coast of Massachusetts, but the exact location escaped me.

Tillerman said...

I think that's right. All the straits of Narragansett Bay are quite narrow and many have major shipping channels. It's hard to imagine a wind farm of any size in the bay. In any case. I'm sure the winds are better offshore out in the Sound.

Pandabonium said...

I guess since we like burning fossil fuel rather than use the available renewable resources, one could say we prefer "passing wind" to addressing the climate crisis.

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