Wind Could Be Leading Source of Electricity by 2050, Says U.S. Dept. of Energy Report
Wind power is one of the fastest-growing new sources of electrical power in the U.S.—the largest new renewable source of power since 2000. And within 35 years, it could be providing more than a third of the power in the U.S.
That's according to a new report, Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, released today by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind and Water Power Technologies office. It updates a study released in 2008 under President George W. Bush, taking into account changes that have occurred in the energy industry since then, with improved technologies making wind more reliable and cost-effective. The 286-page report outlines the wind industry's assets and the challenges it faces in its efforts to increase its share of the total energy portfolio, as well as the positive benefits for the public and the environment of doing so. It provides a key piece of President Obama's Climate Action Plan.
"The wind industry can be characterized by the substantial growth of domestic manufacturing and the level of wind deployment seen in recent years," says José Zayas, director of the DOE Wind and Water Power Technologies office. "Wind power systems are now seen as a viable and competitive source of electricity across the nation. Wind power’s emerging role is an important option in a portfolio of new energy solutions for future generations."
The report draws on the knowledge and research of industry groups, academics, research labs, state and federal government agencies, and non-governmental organizations including environmental groups to document the current state of wind energy in the U.S. and to assess its future viability of wind power as a leading energy source.
Although it pointed out some caveats—uncertain government policies on renewable energy, drop in overall demand for electricity, and the increasing supply and decreasing price of natural gas—it said that wind could be poised to produce as much as 35 percent of the electricity in the U.S. by 2050. Currently wind provides about 4.5 percent of the energy mix but the report says that's expected to grow to 10 percent by 2020, reaching 20 percent—the goal set by the original 2008 report—by 2030. Realizing those levels, the report said, hinged on factors such as continued cost reductions, improved efficiencies, added transmission capacity, governmental policies friendly to the growth of the wind industry to attract investment and even improved weather forecasting.
“We can do this and save you money by doing it,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “This definitive report provides the wind industry with aggressive targets for the growth of wind energy in America, and we stand ready to meet them. It starts with getting common-sense policies in place, so we can double U.S. wind energy in the next five years."
It's already had a big environmental payoff. In 2013, wind power reduced water consumption by 36.5 billion gallons and cut carbon emissions by 115,000,000 metric tonnes. Under the projected scenario, those benefits would vastly increase.
“This report documents how wind energy already provides major economic and environmental benefits to America, including protecting consumers against energy price spikes, and making deep cuts in pollution and water use,” said John Kostyack, executive director of the Wind Energy Foundation. “As wind becomes one of the country’s top sources of electricity,Wind Vision promises even bigger benefits for decades to come.”
The report also pointed out the potential for huge job growth in the wind industry, which currently supports about 50,000 jobs. It said that number could grow by 230,000 by 2030 and, if the 35 percent goal is reached, produce another 600,000 jobs by 2050. By contrast, the number of jobs in the heavily defended coal-mining industry, which has successfully pushed for the repeal of renewable energy standards in Ohio and West Virginia, is under 100,000 and continues to decline steadily. Currently, wind power is produced in 39 states, with Texas the leading state. That would expand to all 50 states under the scenario projected by the report.
"The Wind Vision analysis demonstrates the economic value that wind power can bring to the nation, a value exceeding the costs of deployment," says the report. "Wind’s environmental benefits can address key societal challenges such as climate change, air quality and public health, and water scarcity. Wind deployment can provide U.S. jobs, U.S. manufacturing, and lease and tax revenues in local communities to strengthen and support a transition of the nation’s electricity sector towards a low-carbon U.S. economy."
"The stakes for the nation are high," said Zayas. "I am confident that, with sustained leadership in innovation, U.S. wind power will continue to make a significant contribution to the ever-evolving energy landscape."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
England's Somerset county can now boast its first beaver dam in more than 400 years.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alex McInturff, Christine Wilkinson and Wenjing Xu
What is the most common form of human infrastructure in the world? It may well be the fence. Recent estimates suggest that the total length of all fencing around the globe is 10 times greater than the total length of roads. If our planet's fences were stretched end to end, they would likely bridge the distance from Earth to the Sun multiple times.
Early advertisement for barbed wire fencing, 1880-1889. The advent of barbed wire dramatically changed ranching and land use in the American West by ending the open range system. Kansas Historical Society / CC BY-ND
The authors assembled a conservative data set of potential fence lines across the U.S. West. They calculated the nearest distance to any given fence to be less than 31 miles (50 kilometers), with a mean of about 2 miles (3.1 kilometers). McInturff et al,. 2020 / CC BY-ND
- 'This Is Not Like a Fence in a Backyard' — Trump's Border Wall vs ... ›
- New Border Wall Construction Threatens 8 Species With Extinction ... ›
Climate change is making ancient Hopi farming nearly impossible, threatening not just the Tribe's staple food source, but a pillar of its culture and religion, the Arizona Republic reports.
- These Are the Challenges Facing India's Most Sacred River ... ›
- Oil Spill Causes 'Major Disaster' for Ganges River Dolphins ... ›
By Kenny Stancil
An expert panel of top international and environmental lawyers have begun working this month on a legal definition of "ecocide" with the goal of making mass ecological damage an enforceable international crime on par with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
- Are the Amazon Fires a Crime Against Humanity? - EcoWatch ›
- 'Her Work Will Live On': Climate Movement Mourns Loss of Ecocide ... ›