Here at National Wind, we’re really very fond of the the 2008 report from the Department of Energy, 20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030. Well, last month the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a report which found that the United States is well on its way to achieving that goal, a whole six years early. (As proof of the industry’s progress so far, the Energy Information Administration projects wind to provide 5% of all electricity consumed in the US by 2012.)

The biggest hurdle to reaching that level of wind energy penetration continues to be transmission. Dave Corbus, who oversaw the study for NREL, summed up the problem: “We can bring more wind power online, but if we don’t have the proper infrastructure to move that power around, it’s like buying a hybrid car and leaving it in the garage.” However, even that obstacle isn’t insurmountable. The report estimates that the costs associated with integrating even such a large amount of wind energy into the grid amount to roughly two cents per household per day — a mere $7.30 per year.

This study was released just before another report from NREL that found the United State’s wind potential to be three times higher than previously thought. The new study reports that wind energy could provide 37 million gigawatt hours of electricity a year, nine times more energy than the country currently consumes. Expressed in watts, the United State is capable of producing 10,000 GW of electricity, an enormous number considering covering 20% of the nation’s electric needs would require only 300 GW of wind energy.

The new estimates of the US’s wind resources take into account the enormous strides in turbine technology made since 1993, the last time the country’s wind potential was measured. These numbers only include onshore wind energy potential, not taking into account the nation’s potential offshore wind resources.

For Denise Bode, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, these new numbers provide all the more reason to pass a comprehensive renewable energy standard:

The wind resource is there, vast and inexhaustible, waiting for us. Meanwhile, the economy can’t wait, job creation can’t wait, and America can’t wait. We need Congress to act now and pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill that includes a strong national Renewable Electricity Standard.

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