A U.S Department of Energy report examines the possibility of harnessing enough wind power to provide up to 20 percent of the nation’s total electricity needs by 2030.
If the country can achieve 20 percent wind by 2030, the report, titled “20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030,” (PDF) identifies opportunities for 7.6 cumulative gigatons of CO2 to be avoided by 2030, saving 825 million metric tons in 2030 and every year thereafter.
Wind power was up 45 percent in 2007, accounting for 30% of the entire new power-producing capacity nationally and infusing an investment of over $9 billion into the economy, according to The American Wind Energy Association.
Report highlights include:
- Annual installations need to increase more than threefold. Achieving 20 percent wind will require the number of annual turbine installations to increase from approximately 2,000 in 2006 to almost 7,000 in 2017.
- Costs of integrating intermittent wind power into the grid are modest. 20 percent wind can be reliably integrated into the grid for less than 0.5 cents per kWh.
- No material constraints currently exist. Although demand for copper, fiberglass and other raw materials will increase, achieving 20 percent wind is not limited by the availability of raw materials.
- Transmission challenges need to be addressed. Issues related to siting and the cost of new transmission lines to access the nation’s best wind resources will need to be resolved in order to achieve 20 percent wind.
Also, according to the report, achieving a 20 percent wind contribution to U.S. electricity supply by 2030 would:
- Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation by 25 percent;
- Reduce natural gas use by 11 percent;
- Reduce water consumption associated with electricity generation by 4 trillion gallons;
- Increase annual revenues to local communities to more than $1.5 billion; and
- Support roughly 500,000 jobs in the U.S., with an average of more than 150,000 workers directly employed by the wind industry.