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U.S. onshore wind power becoming mainstream

Commercial offshore wind development the next frontier for U.S. renewables.

By Daniel J. Graeber
U.S. onshore wind power becoming mainstream
Land-based wind power now entrenched in national electricity grid, a report from the U.S. Department of Energy finds. File photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- With more than 30 percent of new electricity coming from wind power, the U.S. Department of Energy said the industry is becoming entrenched in the power sector.

The Department of Energy published a 24-page document highlighting trends in the renewable power sector. Wind energy, the report said, is becoming a "mainstream power source," accounting for 31 percent of all new electricity capacity added to the U.S. grid between 2008 and last year.

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"Wind now provides 4.4 percent of total U.S. electricity generation, 23 states have at least 500 megawatts of wind installed, and in nine states, wind exceeds 10 percent of total in-state electricity generation," the report said.

As of last year, there were 65,000 MW of land-based wind power on the grid and another 13,600 MW is under construction. Longer turbine blades and taller towers are making wind technology more efficient and cost-competitive. Those advances mean potential wind power output could increase by 67 percent above what's currently deployed.

The next frontier for the United States is offshore wind power. Project leaders Deepwater Wind and General Electric this week opened a temporary Rhode Island manufacturing center for the development of components of its Block Island wind farm. What will be the first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States should be generating power by late 2016.

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A combined 307,590 acres may be considered for offshore wind energy development in the next phase of deployment off the coast of North Carolina.

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