Scotland Just Produced Enough Wind Energy to Power the Entire Country for a Day
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August 7 was a windy day in Scotland, and that led to something that had never happened before: The nation’s wind turbines generated more than 100% of the nation’s electrical needs. According to the conservation group WWF Scotland, the turbines provided 39,545 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to Scotland’s grid, while the country’s total power consumption was only 37,202 MWh. In other words, wind power produced 106% of the Scotland’s electricity needs for the day.
Source: The Guardian; WWF Scotland
The First Offshore Wind Farm in the U.S. Was Just Completed
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The Block Island Wind Farm, located three miles off the coast of Rhode Island, is currently in the testing phase and should be up and running next month. The farm, the first of its kind in the U.S., will produce enough energy to power 17,000 homes. The U.S. Department of Energy recently unveiled a plan to encourage offshore wind energy installations, so it should be the first of many to dot the shorelines of the U.S.
Sources: Scientific American; The Journal of Commerce
Wind has Become a Cash Crop for Farmers
According to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, “wind has become the newest cash crop, saving family farms across a wide swath of the heartland.” For many struggling farmers, the wind industry has proved to be a godsend, allowing them to lease parts of their land to wind companies in return for much-needed financial help. Landowners who sign these lease agreements usually get between $7,000 and $10,000 per turbine, per year.
The Tallest Wind Turbine in the U.S. Was Just Built in Iowa
Did we mention turbines were getting bigger and taller? Well, the tallest wind turbine in the country was just completed in southern Iowa. Built by MidAmerican Energy, the new concrete turbine is 397 feet tall. If you measure to the tips of the blades, it’s 557 feet, making it taller than the Washington Monument.
Source: Des Moines Register
Did We Mention Iowa’s a Big Deal?
Speaking of the Hawkeye State, 31% of its electricity was generated from wind last year. That’s the highest percentage by any state in the country by far, leading second-place Kansas by 7%. What’s the nationwide average? About 5%.
Sources: American Wind Energy Association; Wall Street Journal
The Wind Industry Could Provide 20% of Total U.S. Power by 2030
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You might have thought solar was the fastest growing energy source in the U.S., but that title goes to wind. The U.S. currently gets around 5% of its electricity from wind sources. According to the American Wind Energy Association, however, that will rise to 10% by 2020, and 20% by 2030.
Sources: American Wind Energy Association; UtilityDive
It’s Probably Going to Get a Lot Cheaper
If a recent survey of wind energy experts is accurate, the price of electricity powered by wind should plummet in the not-so-distant future. This group of experts believe the price should drop around 25% or so by 2030, and even more by mid-century. Why? The biggest reason may be that wind projects continue to get bigger and bigger. Rotors continue to grow larger, and taller turbines are capable of reaching higher and stronger winds. Thus, each individual turbine should be capable of generating more electricity.
Source: Washington Post; Nature Energy
Employment in the Industry is Booming
Naturally, employment in the wind market is rising as the industry continues to grow. How big has it gotten? According to the Global Wind Energy Council, there are now more than a million people working in the wind industry. Global employment grew by more than 5% in 2015, thanks in large part to high installation rates in China, the U.S. and Germany.
Sources: CleanTechnica; Global Wind Energy Council