Wind Energy Could Supply 20 Percent of Power in Eastern U.S.

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Wind energy could provide 20 percent of the electricity for the eastern half of the United States by 2024, but only if the nation makes a significant financial investment, according to new government report.

About $90 billion would be required to install a network of land- and sea-based wind turbines and about 22,000 miles of new power lines, according to the study published by U.S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The report said that the government would have to provide a significant portion of that investment through programs such as loan guarantees.

“We can bring more wind power online, but if we don’t have the proper infrastructure to move that power around, it’s like buying a hybrid car and leaving it in the garage,” said David Corbus, project manager for the study.

To reach the 20 percent goal, wind power in the eastern U.S. would have to expand 10-fold from current production. Most new wind projects should be located in federal waters from Massachusetts to North Carolina, and across the Midwestern states, the report said.

The Obama administration has earmarked billions of dollars for renewable energy projects, and recently stepped in to accelerate the permitting process of a long-disputed offshore wind proposal in Massachusetts that would provide electricity for 400,000 homes.

Read the study overview

Article appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360

photo: kevbo1983

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

1 Comment

  1. The only problem is that wind energy production isn’t yet dispatchable, meaning it can’t deliver baseload power. In order to utilize wind effectively for 20% of required capacity, it would require a near equal investment in additional conventional systems capable of providing back up power in case of days that are too windy or not windy enough.

    The cost of the backup system would capitalize out at about 1/2 to 1/5 that of the wind system, adding billions of dollars to the total investment. It’s either do it this way or buy additional baseload power from coal fired or other dispatchable technologies at spot pricing.

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