Why wind? Better wind power technology will lead to lower costs. More wind turbines and transmission capacity will expand deployment. Put those trends together and wind power will be turning on the lights in homes all over the United States by 2050, the U.S. Energy Department predicts.

It’s just one of the reasons that the United States is a global leader in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions tied to climate change.

Use of renewable energy technologies speeds up when they become cost-competitive with traditional energy sources. A new report finds wind power is almost there.

The projections put forth in “Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States” reinforce President Obama’s commitment to move the nation to a clean energy economy by diversifying energy sources.

“This wind vision report shows that all 50 states could have utility-scale energy by 2050,” said Dan Utech, the White House’s deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change.

“Wind energy is at the cusp of cost-parity with other forms of energy that we use widely in our economy,” said Lynn Orr, under secretary of energy for science and energy.

In this decade, the wind industry has become the United States’ fastest-growing energy sector. More than 60 gigawatts of power capacity have come online — enough to power 16 million homes — and the cost of wind energy has declined by more than 90 percent.  

Wind turbines now provide utility service in a majority of the 50 states, generating 4.5 percent of the nation’s electricity annually. The Energy Department report released March 12 projects that percentage will grow to 10 percent in 2020 and 35 percent in 2050.

Wind is a no-emissions energy source, so expanding its use could eliminate 12.3 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Wind energy also will help cut emissions of other pollutants, including millions of tons of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter.

The cleaner air resulting from reduced emissions will mean better health and less property damage due to pollution. The report projects savings from reduced pollution could exceed $100 billion.

With clean energy choices expanding, going green doesn’t mean doing without. Do you know where your power comes from?