Solar, biofuels and hydropower are among the energy sources the United States has been developing aggressively since President Obama began the transition to a clean energy economy with his Climate Action Plan.

Wind, an energy technology with a long history, is another green power source with great potential. A new report from the U.S. Energy Department analyzes how the nation might increase its use of wind power.

Wind Vision says adding more of this renewable resource to the nation’s energy menu could be doable and affordable. “Wind’s environmental benefits can address key societal challenges such as climate change, air quality and public health, and water scarcity.”

This New York state winery draws power from its own 10-kilowatt turbine. Development of both small- and large-scale uses would enable expansion of this renewable source. (Robin & Duncan Ross/Arrowhead Spring Vineyards)

Issued in May, the almost-300-page report says the United States has tripled its use of wind power since 2008. Wind supplies 4.5 percent of the nation’s electricity today, and the nation could set a realistic plan to meet 10 percent of the electricity demand in 2020, 20 percent in 2030, and 35 percent in 2050.

If the nation does reach that 2050 target, the report calculates considerable benefits:

  • The nation’s total electric bill would be 3 percent lower.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions would drop by 14 percent.
  • Using less fossil fuel would reduce pollutants such as sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
  • Pollution-related deaths would be reduced by almost 22,000 between 2013 and 2050.
  • The use of water would go down 23 percent as the nation became less dependent on fossil-fuel power plants, which use water as a cooling agent.
Both water and wind produce power at this Pacific Northwest facility. (MWH Global)

Beyond these calculable benefits, Wind Vision predicts adoption of more wind power also would put downward price pressure on fossil fuels in energy markets, saving consumers $280 billion.

So if wind will give electricity for less money with less pollution, maybe wind power should be in your future too.