Wind energy is one of the cleanest and fastest growing forms of energy in the world !
In order to make a Wind Generator cost effective, the most important part of any project is determining whether there is enough Wind at the location of interest. Wind will depend on location and Height of the Tower supporting the wind generator. Here are two different maps showing the difference in Wind Resource Potential at 100 feet (30 meters) vs 260 feet (80 meters)
These maps only provide a rough idea of where to find a good Wind Resource when planning a wind farm. A detailed year/ multi-year Wind study must still be performed at the proposed site of installation to get an exact measurement on wind resource and determine whether it is a viable site. A wind study will typically consist of the installation of a temporary tower that holds wind measuring devices called anemometer (measures wind speed) and a wind vane (measures wind direction). The reading from these measurements will be analyzed with advanced computer modeling software to optimize the layout of the Wind Farm.
As can be seen in the wind map above, most good land-based wind resources are in remote areas such as the rocky mountains and great plains as well as other mountain tops scattered around the country. Since the majority of the population does not live near mountain tops, it makes it especially challenging to bring the electricity produced on a mountain to a city with a lot of electricity usage. This is one of the major expenses that needs to be considered when building a wind farm.
One of the latest advancements in Wind energy is the development of Off-shore Wind farms. As you can see in the wind maps above, there is a tremendous amount of resource potential out at sea. That is because there are no obstructions such as mountains or buildings to slow down the wind.
The development of offshore wind resource potential is solving the problem of long distance distribution. Countries such as Denmark and Holland have been pioneers in this technology for over 10 years, and it is just now arriving in the USA. Since nearly 2/3 of the US lives near a coast, it would be easy to deliver the electricity from the ocean to major cities such as NYC, Washington DC, etc.
The first offshore Wind farm in the USA started operating in December 2016. It is called "Block Island Wind farm" and is located off the coast of Rhode Island. Other projects are being considered up and down the east coast, with one of the most notable of these connecting multiple off-shore wind farms through a large underwater transmission line connecting NY, NJ, DE and VA. This project will enable population centers to capture a large amount of Wind Energy.