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Wind energy by the numbers 

Credit:  When the wind blows ... | John Weiss | Post-Bulletin | February 7, 2015 | www.postbulletin.com ~~

While wind can provide a lot of power, it doesn’t blow all the time or always when needed so it’s considered “intermittent power,” according to Xcel Energy, the country’s leading buyer of wind energy.

Wind turbines have a capacity of about 37 percent, meaning a 2-megawatt turbine will produce only about a third of what it could if it ran at full power 24/7.

By comparison, the utility’s two nuclear-powered plants are base-load plants and run more than 90 percent of the time.

Xcel’s coal-fired plants run about 70 percent of the time and are called “load-following” plants meaning “they cycle up and down based on the amount of renewables on the system,” according to an Xcel spokeswoman.

The utility, which serves thousands of customers in this region, owns the Grand Meadow wind farm as well as one on Nobles County and one in Colorado. It also buys power from other farms, such as the Pleasant Valley wind farm that is expected to come on line later this year.

“We plan to expand our wind portfolio by about 40 percent, adding 1,900 megawatts of wind throughout our service territory over the next several years,” the utility reported. “We currently have 5,080 megawatts of wind power on our systems, enough to meet the energy needs of about 2.5 million average-size homes.”


In 2013, the United States generated about 4,058 billion kilowatthours of electricity.

US Energy Information Administration

Coal 39%

Natural Gas 27%

Nuclear 19%

Hydropower 7%

Other Renewable 6%

Biomass 1.48%

Geothermal 0.41%

Solar 0.23%

Wind 4.13%

Petroleum 1%

Other Gases < 1% TWO Cumulative wind power capacity in this century (by megawatts): (Source: American Wind Energy Association) 2001- 4,147 2002- 4,557 2003 - 6,222 2004 - 6619 2005 - 8,993 2006 - 11,450 2007 - 16,702 2008 - 25,065 2009 - 35,068 2010 - 40,283 2011 - 46,930 2012 - 60,012 2013 - 61,110 2014 - 65,879 THREE Top 10 states for wind power capacity installed (in megawatts) for about 48,000 turbines: (source: American Wind Energy Association) 1 - Texas, 14,098 2- California 5,917 3- Iowa 5,688 4- Oklahoma 3,782 5- Illinois 3,568 6- Oregon 3,153 7- Washington 3,075 8- Minnesota 3,035 9- Kansas 2,967 10- Colorado 2,593 AWEA BY number of turbines etc. FOUR Projects under construction in 2014 (some cross state lines so are included in two states): Texas - about 33 Kansas - 7 Iowa - 6 Minnesota - 4 (including Pleasant Valley in Mower and Dodge counties) North Dakota - 5 Illinois - 3 Oklahoma - 3 New Mexico - 3 South Dakota 2 Oregon - 1

Source:  When the wind blows ... | John Weiss | Post-Bulletin | February 7, 2015 | www.postbulletin.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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