• DOE Report Find that Wind Energy Could Account for 20 Percent of U.S. Electricity by 2030
  • June 5, 2008
  • Law Firm: Troutman Sanders LLP - Atlanta Office
  • On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) released its report on the future potential of wind energy in the United States.  Entitled “20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply,” the report looks at the feasibility of using wind power to provide up to 20 percent of the nation’s total electricity needs by 2030.  The report was prepared by DOE along with industry stakeholders, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Sandia National Laboratory.  In total, the report includes input from over fifty energy organizations and corporations. 

    The report details a scenario to increase wind electric generation from 16.8 gigawatts to 304 gigawatts by 2030.  It examines some of the costs, challenges, and key impacts of meeting the 20% wind scenario.  Specifically, it investigates requirements and outcomes in the areas of technology, manufacturing, transmission and integration, markets, environment and siting.  The report concludes that meeting the 20% wind scenario would require enhanced transmission infrastructure, streamlined siting and permitting regimes, improved reliability and operability of wind systems, and increased U.S. wind manufacturing capacity.  Specifically, the report notes a few major challenges to achieving the 20% wind scenario including a need for investment in the nation’s transmission system for power delivery to urban centers; a need for larger electric load balancing areas and better regional planning, so that regions can rely on a variety of generation sources, continued reduction in wind capital cost; and, a need to address concerns about local siting, wildlife, and environmental issues.  

    Highlights of the report include: 

    • Annual installations need to increase more than threefold with the number of annual turbine installations increasing from approximately 2000 in 2006 to almost 7000 in 2017;
    • Costs of integrating intermittent wind power into the grid are modest at less than 0.5 cents per kWh;
    • No raw material constraints currently exist; and
    • Transmission challenges need to be addressed including issues related to siting and cost allocation of new transmission lines to access the best wind resources.

    The DOE report makes it clear that generating 20% of the nation’s electricity from wind energy is achievable.  According to the report, this would result in the avoidance of approximately 825 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in the electric sector in 2030 out of the 7,900 million metric tons of projected annual emissions in the United States for the same year.

    “DOE’s wind report is a thorough look at America’s wind resource, its industrial capabilities, and future energy prices, and confirms the viability and commercial maturity of wind as a major contributor to America’s energy needs, now and in the future,” DOE Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner, said. “In many cases, the most robust sources of renewable resources are located in remote areas, and if we want to be able to deliver these new clean and abundant sources of energy to population centers, we will need additional transmission.”

    The DOE report is available at: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/pdfs/41869.pdf.