The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), under the direction and funding of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), released the first technical and economic analysis of distributed wind power’s potential in the U.S. Distributed wind typically means smaller wind turbines installed at homes, farms, businesses, and public facilities where they serve to reduce consumer’s electric bills. The key finding in the new study is that distributed wind could be installed at millions of locations nationwide and has the technical potential to power the entire U.S. electrical system
“Solar has received tremendous federal and state support over the last three decades. This new DOE report shows that a more modest set of similar programs aimed at distributed wind could yield huge benefits. Particularly since this is ‘made-in-America’ equipment” said Jennifer Jenkins, Executive Director of the Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA).
Several takeaways include:
- Distributed wind power’s total addressable resource potential is comparable to wind farms and offshore wind, potentially supporting millions of systems and thousands of gigawatts of power production capacity;
- In aggregate terms, the resource potential for this sector “exceeds total U.S. electricity demand,” which comprised approximately 3,700 TWh of electricity in 2015
- “Behind the meter” distributed wind turbines are technically feasible for a large portion of the U.S. building stock, including “about 49.5 million buildings”
- Major increases in electricity production (and corresponding rural economic development) from this sector are quite possible, especially with policies that have been successful with solar
- Community or “locally owned” wind power is not assessed in this modeling, but if it were, it is believed to have “significant additional potential” not captured within the scope of the current analysis.
“This report is timely because the Congress has the opportunity over the next few weeks to fix an omission in last year’s spending bill that provided a five-year extension of solar tax credits but did not do the same for small wind. Hopefully we won’t be giving tax credits for imported solar modules that aren’t available to small wind systems built in America. This new report shows that we’d be throwing away lots of U.S. manufacturing jobs” stated Mike Bergey, President of DWEA.
For a copy of the report:
About the Distributed Wind Energy Association: The Distributed Wind Energy Association is a collaborative group comprised of manufacturers, distributors, project developers, dealers, installers, and advocates, whose primary mission is to promote and foster all aspects of the American distributed wind energy industry.