Iowa Produces More Than 30% Electricity from Wind Energy

World's largest windfarm, Iowa.

Credit: Jim Hammer / CC BY-SA 2.0

Iowa located in the Midwestern of United States has been listed as one of the safest states to live in. It is also known by nickname Hawkeye State. In the year 2015, a total of 11 states generated at least 10% of their total electricity from the wind. Iowa topped the list which had the largest wind generation share, more than 30% of its total requirement, whereas the United States country average is just nearing 5%.

The American Wind Energy Association, report released in October says that Iowa has increased its percentage of in-state electricity that comes from wind turbines and today it is driving more than 30% of its electricity from the wind.  This percentage is calculated on the rolling average through the end of August 2016. Iowa is now the first state in the nation to generate about one-third of its electricity from wind energy.

In Iowa, the development of wind power began way back in 1983 when the state enacted a law to promote electricity generation from wind energy. Iowa generates this electricity from more than 3,700 wind turbines installed across the key locations in the state. It is ranked third nationally in the number of turbines. As of mid-2016, it had installed capacity of over 6,300 megawatts (MW). By the year 2020, the state has targeted to generate 40% of its electricity need from wind energy, this is with an average of 4-5% rise in the power generation per annum.

Most of the wind farms are in the north and west portion of Iowa, as wind maps show the winds in these areas are stronger on average days and this is due to the geographical location, hence it is a better-suited area for the wind energy.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) claims Iowa has potentially 570,700 Megawatts of wind power using large turbines. It has approximately 450 weather and wind condition monitoring stations at strategic locations. These stations provide data for modeling and predicting wind power.

Approximately $12 billion have been invested in Iowa so far and has given employment to more than 7000 people. Iowa alone has another 3,100 megawatts (MW) out of the national 20,000 MWs wind energy projects under construction or in an advanced stage, this nearly 50% of its present installed capacity of 6,365 MW. The average capacity factor of Iowa wind farms is nearly 33.3% and for upcoming installations, higher capacity factors, approaching 40% have been targeted.

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