The 20% Wind Scenario.

20% wind energy by 2030.

Members of the 20% wind collaborative produced this report to start the discussion about issues, costs, and potential outcomes associated with the 20% Wind Scenario. A 20% Wind Scenario in 2030, while ambitious could be feasible if the significant challenges identified in this report are overcome. This report was prepared by DOE in a joint effort with industry, government, and the Nation's national laboratories (primarily the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). Hill Country Wind Power expresses no opinions on the content of this report.

Cumulative Installed Capacity (GW)

Annual Installed Capacity (GW)

To implement the 20% wind scenario, new wind power installations would increase to more than 16,000 MW per year by 2018, and continue at that rate through 2030, as shown in the graph below. Wind plant costs and performance are projected to improve modestly over the next two decades, but no technological breakthroughs are needed. In the 20% wind scenario, 46 states would experience significant wind power development.

Hubbert Peak Graph
M. King Hubbert, while working for Shell Oil as a geophysicist in 1957, predicted the peak of the North American oil supply. His projections came true and his theories are the centerpiece for the debate on peak oil production.

Increasing wind energy's contribution to the US electricity supply. 

Wind power can play a major role in meeting America's increasing demand for electricity, according to a groundbreaking technical report, 20% Wind Energy by the U.S. Department of Energy with contributions from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the American Wind Energy Association, Black & Veatch and others from the energy sector.

The report explores one scenario for reaching 20% wind electricity by 2030 and contrasts it to a scenario in which no new U.S. wind power capacity is installed. It examines costs, major impacts, and challenges associated with the 20% Wind Scenario. It investigates requirements and outcomes in the areas of technology, manufacturing, transmission and integration, markets, environment, and siting. The report finds that the nation possesses affordable wind energy resources far in excess of those needed to enable a 20% scenario.


Strategies and environmental effects.

The report examines siting issues and effects that an increase in wind power facilities may have on compatible land uses, water use, aesthetics, and wildlife habitats. Wind energy avoids many of the undesirable environmental impacts from other forms of electricity production, such as impacts from fuel mining, transport, and waste management.

Unlike fossil-fuel and nuclear generation, which use significant quantities of water for power plant cooling, wind power generation consumes no water during operations. Generating 20% of U.S. electricity from wind would reduce water consumption in the electric sector in 2030 by 17%.


The economic impact of wind power.

The report finds that, during the decade preceding 2030, the U.S. wind industry could:

  • support roughly 500,000 jobs in the U.S., with an annual average of more than 150,000 workers directly employed by the wind industry;

  • support more than 100,000 jobs in associated industries (e.g. accountants, lawyers, steelworkers, and electrical manufacturing);

  • support more than 200,000 jobs through economic expansion based on local spending;

  • increase annual property tax revenues to more than $1.5 billion by 2030; and

  • increase annual payments to rural landowners to more than $600 million in 2030.

Garden Soil

Change always faces challenges.

Major challenges along the 20% wind scenario path include:

  • Expansion of the nation's transmission system so that electricity generated by wind may be delivered;

  • Development of larger electric load balancing areas in tandem with better planning as regions increase their dependency on diverse power sources;

  • Growth and expansion of the wind turbine manufacturing supply chain:

  • Continued reduction in wind capital cost and improved turbine performance:

  • Addressing siting concerns as well as wildlife and environmental impact.

Energy security and price stability.

Using more domestic wind power would diversify the nation's energy portfolio – potentially adding wind-generated electricity at more stable prices – and strengthening national energy security through reduced reliance on foreign sources of natural gas. The 20% wind scenario would alter U.S. electricity generation as shown in the graph below. In this scenario, the wind would supply enough energy to displace about 50% of electric utility natural gas consumption by 2030. This amounts to an 11% reduction in natural gas across all industries. Also, coal consumption would be reduced by 18%. In addition, electric utilities are learning how to accommodate wind's variability while maintaining system reliability


Natural Gas




Significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the principal GHG in the earth's atmosphere. Approximately 40% of total U.S. CO2 emissions come from power generation facilities. Since substantial amounts of coal and natural gas fuels would be displaced, the 20% wind scenario could reduce CO2 emissions in 2030 by 825 million metric tons – 25% of the CO2 emissions from the nation's electric sector in the no-new-wind scenario. As shown in the chart below, this reduction could nearly level projected growth in CO2 emissions from electricity generation.

Incremental cost of the 20% wind scenario.

Costs incurred by the 20% wind scenario exceed those of the no-new-wind scenario by about 2%. Although the 20% wind scenario would incur higher initial capital costs, a large portion of those costs would be offset by $155 billion in lower fuel expenditures. The estimated investment would be $43 billion (net-present-value basis; 2006$). This corresponds to about 0.06¢/kWh of total generation or about 50¢ per month for the average household. These monetary costs do not reflect other potential offsetting positive impacts.

The Wind Share.


Hill Country Wind Power is a wind farm development and consulting company. Hill Country Wind Power raises private capital for energy-related programs. While the wind energy arena is new and dynamic and its potentials are well noted, Hill Country Wind Power's engineering, meteorology and construction management staff closely monitor the latest rules of engagement to develop its wind properties.


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