The U.S. Department of Energy released on May 12 a 225-page report, “20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply,” which details the challenges and benefits of achieving the goal laid out in the report’s self-explanatory title. The report is based in part on a technical analysis carried out by Black & Veatch [http://www.aep.com/about/i765project/docs/WindTransmissionVisionWhitePaper.pdf] for the AWEA in 2007.
The DOE report concludes
There are significant costs, challenges, and impacts associated with the 20% Wind Scenario presented in this report. There are also substantial positive impacts from wind power expansion on the scale and pace described in this chapter are not likely to be realized in a business-as-usual future. Achieving this scenario would involve a major national commitment to clean, domestic energy sources with minimal emissions of [green house gases] and other environmental pollutants.
One of the central challenges is transmission. Windy areas often are far from population centers where energy is consumed. The report references a conceptual transmission plan done for the AWEA by American Electric Power (AEP) [http://www.aep.com/about/i765project/docs/WindTransmissionVisionWhitePaper.pdf], which owns wind farms in Texas, which states:
Some experts believe the U.S. offers quantities of wind energy resources well in excess of future projected electricity needs. One of the biggest long term barriers in the adoption of wind energy to meet this growing demand is the physical limitations on the nation’s current electric transmission system. The nation’s bulk transmission system is currently inadequate to deliver energy from remote wind resource areas to electrical load centers; located mainly on the East and West coasts. AEP believes that this barrier can be overcome by building transmission infrastructure that will enable wind power to become a larger part of the nation’s power generation resource mix. This transmission system expansion will bring many additional societal benefits, including increased reliability and greater access to lower cost and environmentally friendly resources. [emphasis added]
The AWEA’s announcement may be found here. [http://www.awea.org/newsroom/releases/20percent_Wind_Report_12May2008.html]