SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Tennessee Wind Energy

Credit: NREL

Buffalo Mountain, Tennessee Credit: NREL

New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Tennessee. 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 Tennessee 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 Tennessee. The shading on the map below 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 60,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exist in Tennessee. Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Tennessee (just 1.7% of Tennessee’s potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!

Tennessee Wind Energy Resources

Based on the Jobs and Economic Development Index model, developed by NREL, developing one gigawatt worth of wind energy capacity in Tennessee could support approximately 4,800 direct, indirect and induced jobs during construction and over 160 ongoing operation jobs with a total annual payroll of $9 million.

Tennessee is home to the Southeast’s first wind farm, the Buffalo Mountain wind project. This wind farm was installed nearly a decade ago and is still meeting performance goals and expectations. Several other wind farms have been proposed in Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Valley Authority is currently purchasing over 1,500 megawatts of wind power from the upper-Plains states. Proposed High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission projects, like the Plains and Eastern project, would inject thousands more megawatts of new high quality, low cost wind power for the Volunteer State.

Tennessee is also home to at least 10 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 Tennessee. 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 companies in Tennessee include:

  • Barnhart Renewables (Knoxville, TN) Services range from turbine erection to on-going maintenance and repair. Barnhart has installed over 3,000 megawatts of power in the wind industry for manufacturers, developers, and owners, including Tennessee’s Buffalo Mountain wind farm.
  • EnerNex (Knoxville, TN) an electric power engineering and consulting firm specializing in the development and application of new electric power technologies.
  • Flash Tech (Franklin, TN) provides specialized obstruction lighting products to serve the telecommunications, broadcast, wind energy, airport, utilities markets and specialty applications to comply with Federal Aviation Administration lighting regulations.
  • International Tower Lighting, LLC (Nashville, TN) designs and manufactures obstruction lighting systems and components for towers.