Wind Energy Markets
At the end of September 2014, wind project developers reported more than 13,600 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity under construction across 105 projects in 21 states. The majority of wind construction activity continues to be focused within Texas (>7,600 MW). There are more than 1,170 MW under construction in Oklahoma, more than 1,050 MW under construction in Iowa, more than 780 MW under construction in North Dakota, and more than 670 MW under construction in Kansas.
Some of the best wind resources in the country are located in areas remote from the largest load centers and markets for electricity. By expanding and upgrading transmission systems, the nation could better access wind energy, which could be more easily moved from distant areas to population centers where electricity demand is greatest. Also, by facilitating the expansion and geographical dispersion of wind power across a wide area, an upgraded transmission grid improves the reliability of wind. When wind output is slowing at one location, it is usually increasing somewhere else. Thus, dispersed wind power compensates for short-term fluctuations.
Aside from leveraging our wind resources, there are a number of other reasons why America needs to invest in its power grid. A congested and obsolete power grid limits consumers’ access to lower-cost power. It is also inefficient and prone to blackouts. These factors alone cost American consumers tens of billions of dollars per year in elevated electric rates and lost productivity.
The U.S. Department of Energy has also identified transmission limitations as the largest obstacle to realizing the economic, environmental, and energy security benefits of obtaining 20% of our electricity from wind power. Wind power projects totaling 127,071 MW were in the interconnection queue at the end of 2012, waiting to connect to the electricity transmission system because there is not enough transmission capacity to carry the electricity they would produce.
Transmission is a large topic area. The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative publishes reports and case studies related to transmission and maintains a comprehensive researchsection on the NWCC website.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory maintains a Transmission Grid Integrationwebsite that includes publications, data and resources, and FAQs.