SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Georgia Wind Energy
New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Georgia. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the Southeast. One modern wind turbine can now power the equivalent of about 600 homes a year!
New wind speed maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the greatly increased potential for wind energy development in Georgia with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height and are able to access better wind speeds, more areas become attractive for wind energy development within Georgia. The shading on the map above represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater. With these new wind turbines, over 8,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exist in Georgia. Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Georgia (one-eighth of Georgia’s onshore potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!
Based on the Jobs and Economic Development Index model, developed by NREL, developing one gigawatt worth of onshore wind energy capacity in Georgia could support approximately 4,400 direct, indirect and induced jobs during construction and 130 ongoing operation jobs with a total annual payroll of $7 million.
Although Georgia has yet to develop a wind farm, the state is already benefitting from the wind industry. In March 2013, Georgia Power announced a decision to purchase 250 megawatts (MW) of wind energy from Oklahoma. As a result of this low cost wind power, Georgia Power has decided to evaluate additional wind energy projects.
Georgia is also currently home to over 20 wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were between 101 and 500 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Georgia. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs. A few of the wind energy-related manufacturing facilities in Georgia include:
- Hailo USA: Elberton, Georgia: One of the leading producers of safety equipment and mechanical tower components for the wind industry. Hailo specializes in building tower components including ladders, service lifts, platforms, guardrails, and brackets.
- Goracon Windpower Access Systems: Lawrenceville, Georgia: Goracon manufactures climb, lift, and platform systems for wind turbines. The company provides a wide range of windpower access systems including wire rope, service lifts, ladder climbers, maintenance platforms, and blade lifts.
- ZF Wind Power: Gainesville, Georgia: ZF Group opened a branch in Gainesville, Georgia in 2011 and currently employes over 100 people. ZF Wind Power is part of a globally established designer, manufacturer, and supplier of wind turbine gearboxes.