SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Alabama Wind Energy
New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Alabama. 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 Alabama 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 Alabama. The shading on the map to the right 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, 16,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exist in Alabama. Developing just 1,000 MW of wind power in Alabama (just one-sixteenth of Alabama’s potential) could provide enough power for 255,000 homes a year!
Based on the Jobs and Economic Development Index model, developed by NREL, developing one gigawatt worth of wind energy capacity in Alabama could support approximately 130 ongoing operation jobs with a total annual payroll of $6.6 million.
Although Alabama has yet to develop a wind farm, the state is already benefitting from the wind industry. In 2012, Alabama Power announced the purchase of 404 megawatts (MW) of wind energy from Oklahoma—enough to power the equivalent of 115,000 homes a year.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, Alabama is home to at least 9 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 Alabama. 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 Alabama include:
- Hydratech Industries Wind Power (Robertsdale, AL): Hydratech Industries has over 70 employees in Alabama, designing and manufacturing hydraulic and cooling solutions for wind turbines at their facility pictured to the right.
- MFG Wind (Opp, AL): MFG Wind’s Opp facility specializes in wind turbine repair and maintenance services. MFG Wind also manufactures wind turbine blades, nacelles, spinners, replacement parts, and more.
- Elk River (Cullman, AL): Elk River designs and manufactures wind turbine safety equipment. You can view the various products they design including harnesses here.