Taller Turbines: Big win(d) for Georgia

This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.

Guest Blog | March 20, 2015 | Energy Policy, Events, Wind
This map shows some of the areas with wind resources suited for development with newer, taller turbines. Source: Adapted from NREL’s 110 meter hub height wind speed map for areas achieving 35% capacity factors or greater (November, 2014). For the full map, visit: http://apps2.eere.energy.gov/wind/windexchange/pdfs/wind_maps/ga_110m_potential.pdf

This is the first post in a blog series discussing state-by-state highlights of wind energy throughout the South in the lead up to the WINDPOWER Expo in Orlando, FL, May 18 – 21. See the rest of the series here.

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!

ZF Wind Power manufactures wind turbine gearboxes in Gainesville, Georgia. Credit: Paul Dvorak, Engineering Windpower Development

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.

The Southeastern Wind Coalition has published wind energy fact sheets on this state and others from around the Southeast. You can access those fact sheets here.

As the South becomes a new frontier for wind energy, it is only fitting that the largest wind energy conference of the year will be in Orlando, Florida. Join us, May 18-21, 2015 for the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition in Orlando. Each year, the event draws thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors all looking to advance the wind industry. WINDPOWER features over 30 sessions ranging from market and policy analysis, to project performance and technical advancements in wind energy. It’s an excellent way to connect with subject matter experts–anyone interested in the wind industry should plan on attending. As a benefit to you for reading our blog, you can use this discount code to receive $50 off the full registration: SPKWP50.

We hope you can join us in Orlando to learn more about wind energy opportunities for Georgia and the entire South! You can register here. 

Credit: American Wind Energy Association


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