Utility-scale wind farms are generally located in areas with average annual wind speeds of at least 10 miles per hour (4.5 m/s). Ideal locations are characterized by near constant, non-turbulent wind throughout the year, with few sudden powerful bursts of wind. Favorable sites include the tops of smooth, rounded hills; open plains and water; and mountain gaps that funnel and intensify wind. The NREL has plotted wind potential
based on wind speed for the entire United States, both onshore and offshore. Figure 1 illustrates wind potential at 80m height. In the lower 48 states the plot shows significant wind potential along both east and west coasts as well as the Great Lakes, plus a wide swath across the Great Plains. It's interesting to note that using the 4.5 m/s limit, a large majority of the US land mass and near offshore has the potential for supporting utility-scale wind turbines.
As of 2022 the top three wind producing states according to the EIA
were: 1) Texas with 114 billion KWh, 2) Iowa with 44.7 billion KWh, and 3) Oklahoma with 37.4 billion KWh. (See Figure 2) California, once the leader in wind power only ranked #8 in 2022 with 15.7 billion KWh. In terms of wind power as a percentage of total power produced, Iowa with 58%, Kansas with 43%, and Oklahoma with 35% were the leaders, with Texas coming in at about 20%.
A key report published by the US Department of Energy in 2015 titled "Enabling Wind Power Nationwide
" concluded that the deployment of tall wind turbines with average hub heights at 116 m will expand U.S. land area available for utility-scale wind developments to 4.3 million square kilometers. Further innovation and increasing heights to 140 m will increase that further to 4.6 million square kilometers. At that point wind power can be a significant source of electricity generation in all 50 states, including the southeast, which has a relatively low wind power potential. As of 2021, average installed turbine heights were approaching 100 m (see OWOE: What are the key technology advances impacting wind energy production?
Worldwide, the top six countries
in installed wind electricity generation capacity and amounts in 2021 were:
- China - 329 GW
- United States - 133 GW
- Germany - 63.8 GW
- India - 40.1 GW
- Spain - 27.5 GW
- United Kingdom - 27.1 GW, including 12.7 GW from offshore wind