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New Report Provides First Detailed Look At Distributed Wind Across The United States

August 6, 2013
Image Caption: A new PNNL report indicates more people are installing distributed wind turbines, such as this 275-kilowatt turbine that directly provides power for a community in Rhode island. Credit: Vergnet, via NREL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Americans are increasingly installing wind turbines near their homes, farms and businesses to generate their own energy, concludes a new report released today.

The 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications is the first comprehensive analysis on a growing field called distributed wind, which involves generating wind energy close to where it will be used instead of purchasing power from large, centralized wind farms. Distributed wind can range from a small, solitary turbine in someone’s backyard to several large turbines that power a manufacturing facility or a neighborhood.

“The public often pictures large wind projects with long rows of turbines when they think of wind power,” said the report’s lead author Alice Orrell, an energy analyst at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “But this report provides detailed data that shows this image is incomplete. Many of the nation’s turbines are for distributed, not centralized, wind projects.”

PNNL wrote the report for DOE with support from energy consulting firm eFormative Options, the Distributed Wind Energy Association and the American Wind Energy Association.

Some of the report’s findings include:

  • 68 percent of all wind turbines installed in U.S. between 2003-2012 were distributed wind turbines, representing about 69,000 turbines that can generate 812 megawatts combined
  • About a third of all wind turbines installed in the U.S. in 2012 were distributed wind turbines, representing about 3,800 turbines that can generate 175 megawatts combined
  • While the total number of distributed wind turbines installed in 2012 declined by nearly 50 percent, the amount of power those new turbines could potentially produce increased by 62 percent.
  • This shift is mainly because more large turbines are being used in distributed wind projects.

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Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory