The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Wind Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently published 30-meter height, high-resolution wind resource maps for the U.S., including all 50 states.
The maps are a key piece to understanding a state’s wind resource potential from a small wind project development and policy perspective and represent the first modern national map of the resource for small wind turbine deployment available to the public.
Wind resource maps are now available on the DOE’s Wind Powering America website for small (30-meter height), community (50 meters), utility-scale land-based (80 meters), and utility-scale offshore (90 meters) wind power assessments. The 30-meter height maps were made available in collaboration with AWS Truepower.
Historically, developing wind resource maps for the U.S. has been one of Wind Powering America’s major contributions to the wind power industry; however, that initiative started with maps focusing on heights of 50 meters and then, tracking with improved technology that allowed for taller towers, 80 to 100 meters. All such heights, of course, were focused on utility-scale wind power and fall out of the range for small wind.
The small wind-focused maps are also significant in that many states are moving to performance-based incentives for their small wind programs. In addition to helping potential small wind owners determine possible wind regimes, these lower elevation maps may help in with performance prediction modeling, currently being evaluated by staff of the American Wind Energy Association and a number of state incentive program managers.