PORTLAND, Ore.Wind power is on track for a 10-fold increase that would supply 20 percent of U.S. generated electricity by 2030, according to the annual Wind Power Report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
U.S. wind power capacity expansion increased by 60 percent in 2008 with a record $16 billion invested, making the U.S. the fastest-growing wind power market in the world for the fourth consecutive year.
States like Iowa and Minnesota already generate nearly 10 percent of their power from wind. And new funding, such as the separately announced recent grant to Tennessee Tech University for its new Center for Energy Systems Research, will create expand the market further with multi-level storage systems capable of supporting plug-and-play energy storage modules.
The DoE report analyzed trends in wind power growth, including turbine installation costs and performance, then compared electricity generated by wind with that of conventional power generation methods. The report also addressed the issues of how best to integrate wind power into the existing grid infrastructure.
Texas led the nation in 2008, adding 7.1 megaWatts of new wind capacity, with seven states topping 1000 megaWatts and 13 other states with more than 500 megaWatts of capacity. The number of manufacturers of utility scale wind turbines increased too, five in 2008 (GE, Gamesa, Clipper, Acciona, CTC/DeWind), up from just one (GE) in 2004. The cost of installations also increased in 2008, but the prices of the turbines themselves has dropped due to competition and the down economic climate.
Trends in the technology include taller towers, larger rotors, better sites and internal technological advancements that make turbines more efficient. Wind power is now priced at near parity with conventional power generation, according to the report, but may fall behind in 2009 due to drops in grid electricity prices.
The report predicts that this year between 4,400 and 6,800 megaWatts of wind power turbines will be installed in the U.S. with 2010 on-track for even bigger gains.