Transmission and Wind Power
There are a number of reasons why America needs to invest in its power grid. A congested and obsolete power grid limits consumers’ access to lower cost power.Acongested grid 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. Departmentof 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. Currently, around 270,000 megawatts of proposed wind projects, more than enough to meet 20% of our electricity needs, are waiting in line to connect to the grid because there is not enough transmission capacity to carry the electricity they would produce.
This map shows the wind resource data used by the WinDS model for the 20% Wind Scenario. It is a combination of high resolution and low resolution datasets produced by NREL and other organizations. The data was screened to eliminate areas unlikely to be developed onshore due to land use or environmental issues. In many states, the wind resource on this map is visually enhanced to better show the distribution on ridge crests and other features.
Conceptual map of what an expanded transmission grid might look like – courtesy of AEP from the U.S. DOE “20% Wind Energy by 2030” report.
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 would be more easily moved from distant areas to population centers where electricity demand is greatest. Moreover, 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.