SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Kentucky Wind Energy
New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Kentucky. 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 turbine development in Kentucky 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 Kentucky. 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 76,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exist in Kentucky. Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Kentucky (just 1.3% of Kentucky’s 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 wind energy capacity in Kentucky could support approximately 4,200 direct, indirect and induced jobs during construction, as well as approximately 127 ongoing operation jobs with a total annual payroll of $6.2 million. Several wind farm development companies have already been active in Kentucky.
Kentucky is currently home to at least nine wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were up to 100 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Kentucky. 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 Kentucky include:
- Wind Turbine Personnel Hoist (Louisville, Kentucky) – This company provides elevators and hoists to parts and service for the wind industry.
- World Tower Company (Mayfield, Kentucky) – This company manufactures towers for transmission structures, as well as meteorological towers for wind farm development.