The power of wind to combat climate change lies in its affordability: compared to other renewables, it is comparatively cheap to generate, distribute, and use. Currently, over 300,000 wind turbines produce nearly 4% of our global electricity, at an average cost of $0.06/KWh in 2017. If we can increase that statistic to 20% of global electricity by 2050, we can potentially prevent 85 gigatons of CO2 emissions while saving $7.23 trillion USD. That is why Project Drawdown lists onshore wind turbines as #2 of its 100 solutions to mitigate climate change.
Unsubsidized onshore wind power is in fact on par with solar as the cheapest energy source for all major economies except Japan, according to the 2018 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Report. By 2050, BNEF predicts that the price of wind will drop a further 58%. The U.S. in particular is well-primed to take advantage of this opportunity: the Department of Energy predicts that 404 gigawatts (GW) of electricity will come from wind power by 2050, more than quadruple the current amount of 90 GW.
Plenty of Wind on the Oregon Coast
The Speed of Wind Power in the U.S. Now and in the Future
Since 2008, the price of wind power in the U.S. has fallen 70%, with over 54,000 wind turbines generating electricity in over 41 states. Texas alone would be the sixth-largest wind power producer in the world if it were its own country, with unsubsidized prices falling as low as $27/MWh: directly competitive with coal and natural gas, with rates between $23-34/MWh.
This affordability is one of the main reasons that wind power is one of the fastest growing industries in the country; the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that wind turbine technicians will be the second fastest-growing job in the nation between 2016 and 2026.
Let’s Build some Wind Turbines!
The Benefits of Onshore Wind v. Offshore
Offshore wind has recently made the headlines due to a record-breaking auction of the U.S. coastline, but onshore wind continues to be the greener and cheaper option between the two. Onshore turbines not only create fewer emissions but also cost less to build, often taking less than a year to construct. A 2015 review of the cost of wind power by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated a difference of $121/MWh in cost between offshore ($181/MWh) and onshore ($61/MWh), predominantly due to the price of construction.
Windy Day in San Diego
What You Can Do to Get More Wind Power
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) offers a range of potential actions steps, from signing up for alerts to contact your representatives when wind power policies are under consideration in Congress to receiving advocacy training and donating to its PAC.
In addition, you can contact your local utility company to inquire whether or not they use wind power. Most wind turbines in the U.S. are located in the Midwest, which has significantly higher wind frequency and speed than any other region. However, even states with much less and slower wind can purchase wind power cheaply from out-of-state turbines.
Finally, you could consider installing your own small wind electric system if you live in an area with enough wind to make it economically feasible. The Department of Energy has lots of resources to help you determine if that option is a good one for your community.
Wind Energy is a Popular Option for Carbon Offsets and Renewable Energy Credits
Related LEED® v4 Credits:
- LEED BD+C, EAc Renewable Energy Production (1-3 pts)
- LEED BD+C, EAc Green Power and Carbon Offsets (1-2 pts)