Government Study Claims Twenty Percent Of US Power From Wind By 2030

A study sponsored by the US Department of Energy, and overseen by a board of outside advisers from the wind power industry, projects that it is possible to expand the average national output of wind generated electricity from the present 1.0+%- to the 20%-level over the next 22 years: an order of magnitude more wind power in the USA, in two decades.

The study presumes that demand for electricity will continue to grow throughout the period of projection. Imagine what the percentage would be under a scenario of reduced demand growth!

Wind power is capable of becoming a major contributor to America’s electricity supply over the next three decades, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy. The groundbreaking report, 20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply, looks closely at one scenario for reaching 20% wind energy by 2030 and contrasts it to a scenario of no new U.S. wind power capacity.
Project details are presented here, on a dedicated project website. The full report can be downloaded here.Although the study is for a single scenario, it identifies what would be the potential roadblocks and constraints under any reasonable growth scenario, some of which can be overcome by investment, some by public policy, and some by attitude.
More than 300 gigawatts of wind power capacity would be needed to meet the DOE's 20 percent scenario, up from 11.6 gigawatts in mid-2007. Wind turbines currently generate a little more than 1 percent of the country's total capacity. One gigawatt is enough to power roughly 650,000 homes.

To reach that level, the wind industry would have to quicken its pace of installations more than fivefold by 2018, to 16 gigawatts a year, up from 3 gigawatts a year today, and then sustain that pace through 2030.

It won't be easy. To reach that level would require improved turbine technology, significant changes in transmission systems to deliver power through the electrical grid, and larger expanded markets to buy the power, the report says

Helping to add credibility to the study results, is the fact that the board of advisers for the study apparently included no one with direct interest in the coal fired power industry.

Members of the following advisory group supplied strategic guidance:

Rashid Abdul Mitsubishi Power Systems
Stan Calvert U.S. Department of Energy
Edgar DeMeo* Renewable Energy Consulting Services, Inc.
Robert Gates Clipper Windpower
Robert Gramlich American Wind Energy Association
Thomas O. Gray American Wind Energy Association
Steven Lindenberg U.S. Department of Energy
James Lyons GE Global Research
Brian McNiff McNiff Light Industries
Bentham Paulos Energy Foundation
Bonnie Ram* Energetics Incorporated
Janet Sawin Worldwatch Institute
Brian Smith National Renewable Energy Laboratory
J. Charles Smith Utility Wind Integration Group
Randall Swisher American Wind Energy Association
Robert Thresher National Renewable Energy Laboratory
James Walker enXco

Comments: the US increased it's wind power an order of magnitude in the preceding two decades. A continuation of that level of growth would therefore seam reasonable. Caveat: if the NIMBY effect can be overcome.

Moreover, although one of the growth limiting factors is the need to construct transmission lines from areas where wind power potential is highest to where demand currently exists, that need is not uniform, and will be addressed in step with other resource and policy factors. For example, we can imagine a city such as Buffalo New York taking a regional economic development policy line that, hypothetically, would amount to: "we've got the housing stock, a bounty of clean water, massive amounts of clean hydroelectric power, and we've made adding wind power a top priority." The net effect being an impetus to move the jobs to Buffalo instead of the power to other areas.

Now scale this idea up to the state level (per the graphic depicting projected wind power additions by state) and think of it in context of a carbon cap and trade program making it more expensive to do business in highly coal dependent areas. Depending on how the interplay of cap and trade and wind power additions are synchronized and who provides the funding, the lobbying battles may be intense.

Incidentals: What's up with North Dakota? So windy there that it pops the buttons off of one's shirt if you face the wrong direction.

What happens in tornado the coastal zones where tropical storms are expected to be more frequent/intense? Are those really good places for wind power investment?

Via::Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, DOE report: Wind power may provide 20% of power needs by 2030 Image credit:: USDOE Report

Tags: Wind Power