The Department of Energy’s Wind Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have published a wind resource map for the state of Michigan. The resource map shows wind speed estimates at 50 and 80-m above ground and depicts the resource that could be used for utility-scale wind development.
As a renewable resource, wind is classified according to wind-power classes, which are based on typical wind speeds. These classes range from Class 1 (the lowest) to Class 7 (the highest). In general, at 50 m, wind power Class 4 or higher is useful for generating wind power with large turbines. Class 4 and above are considered good resources. Particular locations in the Class 3 areas could have higher wind-power class at 80 meters than shown on the 50-meter map because of possible high wind shear. Given the advances in technology, a number of locations in the Class 3 areas may suitable for utility-scale wind development.
The map shows that Michigan has wind resources consistent with utility-scale production. Onshore utility-scale wind resources in Michigan are concentrated along the immediate shores of the Great Lakes (especially Lakes Michigan and Superior) and on offshore islands. The Great Lakes have good-to-outstanding wind resource. A large area of Class 3 resource is located northeast of Saginaw on the “thumb” of the state. Specific locations in Class 3 areas could have higher wind power class values at 80 m than shown on the 50-m map because of high wind shear. Given the advances in wind energy technology, a number of locations in Class 3 areas may be suitable for utility-scale wind development.
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth has more information about the validated wind maps. The Web site also lists wind maps at 30 m, 70 m, and 100 m.