Community Developments Investments (Fall 2013)
U.S. Department of Energy Programs Support Wind Energy
AWEADry Lake Wind Power Project, in Navajo Country, Arizona, is the state’s first utility-scale wind farm with 30 turbines.
Kenneth Alston, Special Assistant for Finance, U.S. Department of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through a wide portfolio of activities, aids the development and deployment of wind energy, and the results are taking hold: This clean energy technology has doubled its generating capacity in the United States over the past four years.
A Growing Market
Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing energy technologies in the nation. In 2012, wind energy was the number one source of new energy generation capacity installed in the United States, contributing more than 40 percent of all new generating capacity. Total installed wind capacity in the country has reached more than 60,000 megawatts—enough to power 15.2 million homes annually, more than the number of homes in the states of California and Washington combined.
At the end of 2012, nine states met more than 10 percent of their total electricity needs with wind power, 39 states had utility-scale1 wind projects, and 15 states had more than 1,000 megawatts of installed capacity wind power. Wind energy generates more than 3 percent of the nation’s electricity portfolio, and according to a 2008 DOE report, wind energy could power as much as 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030.
What We Do
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy oversees the DOE’s Wind Program. The program, which had a budget of more than $88 million in 2013, helps accelerate deployment of wind power technologies by improving turbine performance, driving down the levelized cost2 of energy, and reducing market barriers to wind energy deployment. The program works with national laboratories, industry, universities, and other federal agencies on both land-based and offshore wind power projects.
Other organizations within the DOE also play an important role in fostering wind energy development. The Loan Program Office has supported more than $1.7 billion in new wind project financing, while the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has issued funding awards for early-stage research and development in wind energy components, materials, and turbines.
The DOE’s wind energy activities focus on four areas:
Through these programs and projects, the DOE will continue to support the growth of the nation’s wind industry and the promotion of a clean-energy economy.
1The term “utility-scale” applies to large turbine installations requiring transmission system interconnection.
2Levelized cost is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competitiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-kilowatt-hour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. Key inputs to calculating levelized costs include overnight capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type. “Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013,” January 2013, http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf.