DOE Optimistic About Future of Wind Power in U.S.

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Widely considered to be one of the most promising renewable energy sources available, wind power may become a global reality in the near future, marking a shift away from continued dependency on fossil fuels.

Architectural firm On Office has created a proposal for Norway called “The Turbine City,” which has the makings of a world-famous tourism site entirely powered by wind. The Turbine City would serve as a destination for vacation getaways and boats, featuring accommodations such as a hotel, spa and museum. Home to the windiest coastline in Europe, Norway has already built the world’s first floating turbine.

Learning lessons from Norway: Photo: Flick/tualatin

Learning lessons from Norway: the island of Utsira, is home to StatoilHydro, which operates the world's first combined wind power and hygrogen fuel cell facility, providing electricity to 10 households. Photo: Flick/tualatin

While most people may still associate wind power with largely European countries such as Denmark and Spain, it is possible that wind energy will catch on faster than expected here in the U.S.

On Jan. 20, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) revealed the results of a two-and-a-half year study that aims to transform 20 percent of the Eastern Interconnection’s electric energy to wind power by 2024.

The study featured analysis of wind transmission options, future scenarios and even estimated expenses of the long-term project, comparing fossil fuel expenditures with increased wind transmission power.

David Corbus, the project manager of this study, described the goal as “ambitious,” though he believes that findings indicate that the shift can be achieved. He explains to Enhanced Online News the importance of these operational changes, saying, “Whether we’re talking about using land-based wind in the Midwest, offshore wind in the East, or any combination of wind power resources, any plausible scenario requires transmission infrastructure upgrades and we need to start planning for that immediately.”

This shift would involve concentrating the wind energy in the Eastern grid to power projects scattered across the country, ensuring results that are predictable and thus more dependable for widespread consumer use. Should the project come to fruition, carbon emissions would be reduced as a smaller percentage of the population depends on fossil fuel plants for its energy. Because less money would be spent on fossil fuels, this would also mean more funds for building the proper infrastructure needed to increase wind power.

“Just over 70 percent of the U.S. population gets its power from the Eastern Interconnect,” Corbus says. “Incorporating high amounts of wind power in the Eastern grid goes a long way towards clean power for the whole country.”

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