U.S. Wind Projects Get Bigger By Building Up (Not Adding Turbines)

Date: 28 Feb 2011 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Have U.S. wind projects hit a size sweet spot?  While average project capacity continues to grow, it’s largely because of increasing turbine size rather than adding more turbines to a wind farm.

The following chart illustrates, showing how the capacity of the average American wind project has more than doubled in a decade (to nearly 90 MW in 2009), but that almost all that growth can be attributed to a more than doubling in the average turbine size (from 0.71 MW to 1.74 MW). 

Although the American definition of distributed generation may differ, it may be that the U.S. isn’t so different from Germany, where the country’s 27,000 MW of wind power is spread over 3,300 wind projects with an average project size of 9 megawatts. It may be that smaller wind projects are encountering fewer political and transmission barriers than their larger neighbors.

Caveat.  The linked post shows an average of all installed German wind projects, and it would be interesting to see how Germany’s size progression compares to the U.S.

John Farrell
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John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.