U.S. wind turbine capacity equal to 11 nuclear plants

| by Teena Hammond
U.S. wind turbine capacity equal to 11 nuclear plants

Last week, Hurricane Isaac delivered yet another lesson of wind's wild ways. Properly employed, however, wind is a powerful aide.

The American Wind Energy Association said this month that U.S. wind turbines can produce 50 gigawatts of electricity, the same amount as 11 nuclear power plants or 44 coal-fired plants.

Wind energy now powers the equivalent of nearly 13 million American homes. States like South Dakota and Iowa get 20 percent of their electricity from wind. GE workers have designed and built many of the wind mills rising from fields, farms and seas in the U.S. and abroad.

Starting a decade ago, GE injected its nascent wind business with a heavy dose of engineering and manufacturingwind powerknow-how, materials science, and advanced technologies from GE Global Research.

There are now 18,000 high-tech GE wind turbines installed around the world, generating 60 million megawatt hours of renewable electricity every year, enough to power the equivalent of New York City. The wind energy unit has generated $30 billion in revenues.

“The wind business might be one of the best investments we’ve made and global research has the technology and to keep it strong,” said Mark Vachon, GE’s vice president for ecoimagination.

GE has many kinds of wind turbines in its portfolio, both on-shore and off-shore, some standing 40 stories tall. The company has spent $2 billion on wind innovation over the last decade.  

The benefits of wind power are obvious. Consider that just one coal plant emits roughly 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. The offset CO2 emissions from U.S. wind is equivalent to taking 14 million gasoline-powered cars off the roads.

Switching to wind power also means saving water. Compared with thermal electric generation, wind power conserves 30 billion gallons of water a year.

By 2030, wind energy has the potential to meet up to 20 percent of energy needs in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Energy. GE is already helping to improve wind integration and turbine monitoring to boost efficiency and cut downtime.

Reaching the 20 percent wind energy goal, the DOE estimates, would offset CO2 emissions by 626 million tons, save over 450 billion gallons of water, and create over two million U.S. jobs.

Infographic courtesy of American Wind Energy Association.

Wind turbine photo courtesy of G.E.

Topics: Wind Power

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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