DoE labs issue reports on wind power

Aug. 24, 2016

Department of Energy laboratories have posted news recently related to wind power. First, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory issued a report that newly built wind projects are averaging around 2¢/kWh. And second, the DoE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory issued a report noting that American companies are increasingly making their own power with wind turbines located near their factories.

“Wind energy prices—particularly in the central United States—are at rock-bottom levels, with utilities and corporate buyers selecting wind as the low-cost option,” said Berkeley Lab senior scientist Ryan Wiser. “Moreover, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects are economically viable in a growing number of locations throughout the United States.”

The Berkeley report lists these key findings:

  • Wind power represented the largest source of added U.S. electric-generation capacity in 2015.
  • Bigger turbines are enhancing wind-project performance, with average capacity increasing to 2 MW.
  • Low turbine pricing is pushing down installed project costs.
  • The manufacturing supply chain is adjusting to swings in domestic demand for wind equipment.

The PNNL report focuses on distributed wind—with power generated near where it will be used rather than purchased from large centralized wind farms. “Wind plays a key role in the rising area of distributed energy,” said report co-author, Alice Orrell, an energy analyst at PNNL.

“Although distributed wind is not as widespread as distributed solar, new third-party financing options similar to the lease model that spurred growth in the residential solar market could also grow distributed wind,” added PNNL energy analyst Nik Foster, the other co-author.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • Industrial uses accounted for 37% of distributed wind capacity added in 2015.
  • Exports of small wind turbines (up to 100 kW) doubled from 2014 to 2015, with Italy, the U.K., and Japan among the largest importers.
  • The estimated cost of energy produced by small distributed wind turbines was 11¢ per kWh in 2015.

In related news, 3BL Media is reporting that Whirlpool has announced plans to build wind turbines to help power its Marion and Ottawa plants in Ohio.

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