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Wind Resource Assessment

A map of the United States is color-coded to indicate the high winds at 80 meters.

This map shows the wind resource at 80 meters for both land-based and offshore wind resources in the United States.

Correct estimation of the energy available in the wind can make or break the economics of wind plant development. Wind mapping and validation techniques developed at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) along with collaborations with U.S. companies have produced high-resolution maps of the United States that provide wind plant developers with accurate estimates of the wind resource potential.

Due to the existence of special use airspace (SUA) (i.e., military airspace below 300 feet above ground level) used for military testing and training across the United States, Air Force wind consultants advise contacting them prior to applying for permits on all federal lands and nonfederal lands. As the Department of Defense lead for wind energy and SUA management, the Air Force will work to ensure that potential sites are mutually safe, secure, and efficient. Contact airforcewindconsult@pentagon.af.mil.

Wind Forecasting

Illustration of clouds rising over the earth.

The ability to accurately predict when the wind will blow will help remove barriers to wind energy development by allowing wind-power-generating facilities to commit to power purchases in advance. NREL researchers work with federal, state, and private organizations to develop model representations of the wind resource, including seasonal, daily, and hourly data, to better characterize the potential benefits and impacts of wind on system operation and assess transmission availability. The work will provide operators with a tool to anticipate wind generation levels and adjust the remainder of their generation units accordingly. Improved short-term wind production forecasts will let operators make better day-ahead market, operation, and unit-commitment decisions and help real-time operations in the hours ahead. Advanced forecasting systems will also help warn of extreme wind events so that operators can implement a defensive system posture if needed. The seamless integration of wind plant output forecasting—into both power market operations and utility control-room operations—is a critical next step in accommodating large penetrations of wind energy in power systems.

For more information about wind resource assessment and weather conditions, see: