DOE launches new online instruments to help small wind power

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced two new online tools to assist state and local policymakers, consumers and stakeholders evaluate siting and policy issues to help accelerate the use of renewable energy.

Specifically, the aim is to facilitate the installation of wind power systems near final users, thus helping to lower barriers that had been identified by the DOE in a 2008 report. Namely site-specific factors connected with zoning (that can therefore not be overcome by using general tools) and economic ones, also largely due to local factors.

The new tools supplied by the DOE provide detailed information for specific locations on the actual potential of wind, thus helping consumers choose the most effective site for wind energy system of different sizes and types.

A standard version is offered that is free for everyone, while another version requires the payment of a fee. The latter is mostly to be used by local policymakers and administrators, and provides practical information on the options offered by federal, state and local policies for renewable development and the available options (technical, regulatory, on tax and financial policies) aimed at overcoming such barriers.

With about 44,000 MW of wind energy installed at the end of 2011 (of which 986 MW developed and managed by Enel Green Power), the US wind farm market ranks second in the world, after China.

All its plants are installed onshore, but over the next few years a significant development of offshore facilities has been forecasted. Also the small-wind power market is considerable, being presently the first in the world as regards manufacturing and sales, and also expected to steadily increase. The new assessment tools developed by the DOE are specifically aimed at this market sector.