The potential amount of wind energy in this country is actually more than three times what is was previously thought to be.
This post from the Energy Collective blog says a new analysis from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) credits the increase to improvements in wind turbines over the last decade and a half:
The assessment of onshore wind energy potential found that the U.S. could produce almost 37 million gigawatt-hours yearly. According to the American Wind Energy Association, that’s nine times our current annual electricity consumption.
Expressed as gigawatts rather than gigawatt hours, the new estimate for the U.S. wind resource is 10,000 gigawatts, an amount that dwarfs currently installed wind power which totals about 35 gigawatts – enough to power 9.7 million homes. Obviously there’s plenty more where that comes from, even more if offshore wind is included.
NREL’s last analysis in 1993, when wind turbine heights were more limited, estimated U.S. onshore wind potential at less than 10.8 million gigawatt hours.
As noted by Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, the new assessment is more than a number, it’s another compelling argument for passage of comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation by Congress:
This new analysis confirms that America is blessed with vast wind resources that can energize our economy, create jobs, and avoid carbon for years to come—if we give ourselves the policy tools to do so, including a strong national Renewable Electricity Standard with aggressive, binding near- and long-term targets.
In addition, AWEA points out that if we took advantage of the wind energy potential, we would also create thousands of American jobs building the components and turbines to tap that potential.