Wind energy development is growing rapidly in the United States, with utility scale projects installed in 39 states as of early 2015 and smaller wind turbines in all 50 states. The U.S. wind energy industry has added over 25,000 MW of capacity in the past five years, bringing the cumulative capacity to over 65,000 MW by the end of 2014.
Currently, wind energy accounts for about 4.5 percent of the U.S. electricity production, with 17 states generating more than five percent of their electricity form wind. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that the U.S. onshore wind potential is over 10,000 gigawatts (GW) in areas with capacity factors at or above 30 percent. For offshore wind, the Department of Interior estimates that over 4,000 GW of offshore wind potential exist in the oceans and Great Lakes. Only a portion of this potential will be necessary for wind energy to supply a substantial portion of the U.S.’s electricity needs. The Department of Energy’s 20% Wind Energy by 2030 report determined that it would require approximately 300 GW of wind capacity, including 54 GW of offshore wind, for wind to reach 20 percent of the U.S. electricity needs in the year 2030. The Department of Energy Projects that by 2050 the United States could meet 35 percent of its energy needs with wind while also achieving a two percent reduction in electricity costs.
Aside from the many environmental benefits of wind energy – including improved air quality and water savings from the energy sector – communities across the country are excited about wind energy’s economic development potential. As of early 2015 the Department of Energy reports that there are over 600,000 wind-related jobs spread all across the country, while wind businesses directly support over 50,500 jobs.
Wind Energy Facts and Resources: