Wind energy is one of Wyoming’s most abundant renewable energy resources. Wyoming has a tremendous wind energy resource, ranking 8th in wind energy potential. (See Wyoming Wind Resource Map)
The Top Ten for Wind Energy Potential: As measured by potential annual generation, considering environmental land use exclusions in areas of greater than 30% capacity factor at 80m.
Source: National Renewable Energy Lab
Although it is very unlikely that all available wind energy would be developed, Wyoming’s resource alone could provide 47% of the total energy used in the USA (based upon 2008 total generation from EIA). Wyoming’s excellent wind resource makes both large-scale and small-scale wind energy development viable.
Wind Energy Basics
Wind energy utilizes the natural force of wind currents to move blades on a wind turbine to generate electricity. Depending on the amount of energy needed, wind turbines can be employed on a small residential or a commercial/utility scale. Likewise, the size of wind turbines varies, depending on the energy generation capacity needed.
What Type of Wind Energy?
- Small wind systems can either be grid-tied or stand-alone (off-grid or battery-based). Due to Wyoming’s net metering law, grid-tied small wind energy is generally considered any turbine less than 25 kW rated capacity that is placed “behind the meter.” Small wind can be used by homes, businesses, agricultural producers, and government buildings. Small wind is used to reduce costs, not to generate revenue. Small wind turbines are now a common sight in Wyoming.
- Community wind energy projects come in many shapes and sizes, but are unified by having some level of local or public involvement, equity, initiation, and control. Examples include: school-owned wind turbines, farmer owned wind cooperatives or Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs), and local public power wind projects. Windustry, a non-profit advocacy group, provides some of the best information on small distributed and community wind energy projects.
- Large-scale wind energy consists of large arrays of wind turbines concentrated in one area and governed under a single power purchase agreement. Often these projects are financed by large institutional investors based outside the local area. They are most often owned and operated by corporate entities, and land easements are signed with property owners. Projects of this size require their own transmission lines to deliver power to a distant population center. At the end of 2010, Wyoming had over 1412 MW of installed capacity.