White House envisions wind providing a third of US power

White House envisions wind providing a third of US power
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With certain government and private-sector actions, wind power could provide 35 percent of the United States’s electricity needs by 2050, a new federal report found.

The Wind Vision report released Thursday by the White House and the Energy Department is an update to its 2008 report and maps out the current state of wind energy and its potential over the coming decades.

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“Wind’s environmental benefits can address key societal challenges such as climate change, air quality and public health, and water scarcity,” the report concludes.

“Wind deployment can provide U.S. jobs, U.S. manufacturing, and lease and tax revenues in local communities to strengthen and support a transition of the nation’s electricity sector towards a low-carbon U.S. economy.”

The report applauds the federal government’s efforts to deploy wind, saying the United States ranks first in the world in utility-scale wind, and notes wind power has tripled during the Obama administration. Wind now accounts for 4.5 percent of the country's electricity capacity.

And wind is approaching cost-competitive prices on average nationally, leading to the department’s forecast that using more wind power would only increase electricity costs 1 percent in the decades ahead.

“Wind energy continues to be one of America’s best choices for low-cost, zero-pollution renewable energy, and in an increasing number of markets, may be the cheapest source of new energy available,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

But reaching the 35 percent goal would require actions, investments and policies from various stakeholders.

The wind industry, for example, would have to install between 8 and 11 gigawatts of turbine capacity each year through 2050.

Transmission infrastructure would also have to be improved, along with better integration and flexibility in the electric grid.