Onshore U.S. wind resources could generate nearly 37,000,000 gigawatt- hours (GWh) annually, more than nine times the current U.S. electricity consumption.
These larger estimates are due to improved wind turbine technology as today’s taller turbines tap better winds at higher elevations (this study measured winds at 80 meters), and to more refined wind measurements. The previous national government survey of U.S. wind energy resources, carried out by the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, estimated U.S. wind potential at 10,777,000 GWh.
AWEA CEO Denise Bode noted the new assessments, saying, "This new analysis confirms that America is blessed with vast wind resources that can energize our economy, create jobs, and avoid carbon for years to come—if we give ourselves the policy tools to do so, including a strong national Renewable Electricity Standard."
New Wind Energy Resource Potential Estimates for the United States
Accurate information about the wind potential in each state is required for federal and state policy initiatives that will expand the use of wind energy in the United States. A collaborative project between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and AWS Truewind has resulted in the first comprehensive update of the wind energy potential by state since 1993.
Using an AWS Truewind national dataset of estimated gross capacity factor (not adjusted for losses) at a spatial resolution of 200 m and height of 80 m above ground, NREL estimated the windy land area and wind energy potential in various capacity factor ranges for each state in the contiguous United States. The table (Excel 75 KB) lists the estimates of windy land area with a gross capacity factor of 30% and greater at 80-m height and the wind energy potential from development of the "available" windy land area after exclusions. These areas are generally considered to have suitable wind resource for wind development.
The "Installed Capacity" is the potential megawatts (MW) of rated capacity that could be installed on the available windy land area, and the "Annual Generation" is the estimated annual wind energy generation in gigawatt-hours (GWh) that could be produced from the installed capacity. NREL reduced the wind potential estimates by excluding areas unlikely to be developed such as wilderness areas, parks, urban areas, and water features (see Wind Resource Exclusion Table in the spreadsheet above for more detail).
Estimates of Windy Land Area and Wind Energy Potential by State for Areas >= 30% Capacity Factor at 80m
These estimates show, for each of the 48 contiguous states and the entire United States, the windy land area with a gross capacity factor (without losses) of 30% and greater at 80-m height above ground and the wind energy potential from development of the “available” windy land area after exclusions. The “Installed Capacity” shows the potential megawatts (MW) of rated capacity that could be installed on the available windy land area, and the “Annual Generation” shows annual wind energy generation in gigawatt-hours (GWh) that could be produced from the installed capacity. AWS Truewind, LLC developed the wind resource data for windNavigator® (http://navigator.awstruewind.com) with a spatial resolution of 200 m. NREL produced the estimates of windy land area and windy energy potential, including filtering the estimates to exclude areas unlikely to be developed such as wilderness areas, parks, urban areas, and water features (see Wind Resource Exclusion Table for more detail).
US 48 Total 10.458.945 MW
1 NREL’s wind potential estimates were based on maps produced by AWS Truewind using the MesoMap® system.
2 Excluded lands include protected lands (national parks, wilderness, etc.), incompatible land use (urban, airports, wetland, and water features), and other considerations. See Table 1 for full listing.
3 Assumes 5 MW/km2 of installed nameplate capacity