World-Class Wind Testing Facilities Build Global Competitiveness
Federal investment in scientific discovery and technology is vital to maintaining U.S. economic leadership in the world and in growing such key emerging sectors as clean energy
With more than 60 gigawatts of installed capacity, the American wind industry supports 50,000 full-time jobs, including workers at more than 550 domestic manufacturing facilities.1 Although only 4.5 percent of U.S. electricity generation comes from wind,2 Department of Energy research suggests that figure could reach 20 percent by 2030.3 Additional wind generation capacity means job growth and continued export opportunities for advanced materials and components.
The National Wind Technology Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
Wind energy is also playing a significant role in the Obama administration’s efforts to double clean electricity generation over the next decade and reduce the nation’s carbon pollution. Power generation from wind in the United States has tripled since 2008—and now is enough to supply over 15 million homes.4
In the early 1970s, the marketplace for wind energy was limited and few federal research and development programs were dedicated to helping advance the technology. Without support for R&D, the nascent wind industry faced stiff market barriers to development and deployment, and wind turbines remained less reliable and more expensive than conventional fossil fuel electricity generation. Then, in 1975, Congress authorized an R&D program for wind energy—the Wind Program, part of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office—which has contributed to significant technological advances and made it possible to develop reliable utility-scale turbines at competitive prices.5 Today, the Wind Program continues to provide critical investments not only to make the U.S. electricity grid cleaner and more efficient, but also to ensure American competitiveness in the rapidly growing global wind energy market.
- American Wind Energy Association, “Get the Facts: Wind Energy Facts at a Glance,” http://www.awea.org/Resources/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=5059.
- U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “2013 Wind Technologies Market Report,” August 2014, http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/08/f18/2013 Wind Technologies Market Report_1.pdf.
- U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “20% Wind Energy by 2010,” July 2008, http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/41869.pdf.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Electricity Data Browser: Net Generation for All Sectors, Monthly,” http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser; American Wind Energy Association, “Get the Facts.”
- U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Retrospective Benefit-Cost Analysis of U.S. DOE Wind Energy R&D Program,” June 2010, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/analysis/pdfs/wind_bc_report10-14-10.pdf.