Northwestern U.S. Wind Mapping Project
New high-resolution, state-of-the-art maps of wind energy potential are now available for the Northwest. Resource estimates are easily accessible to the public through an interactive Geographic Information System (GIS) website.
Through a zoom-in web interface, provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, allowing quick site look-ups, the maps will greatly aid rural landowners and communities in exploring economic opportunities to harness wind energy.
The project is coordinated by NW Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (NWSEED) and the NW Cooperative Development Center (NWCDC) and sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and numerous other organizations.
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Although the new wind maps do not eliminate the need for on-site wind resource measurement, they can help utilities and developers gain a better understanding of where the best wind resource areas are and screen out less promising areas, significantly minimizing the cost and timing of prospecting. They are also intended to aid landowners in making a first-cut feasibility analysis for installing distributed wind turbines to supply power for homes, farms and ranches.
NWSEED hopes that these new maps ultimately drive down the costs of wind power and ensure that public interests are protected as the Northwest’s wind resources are developed.