Category: wind

Mapped: Average Wind Speed Across the U.S.


This post is by Omri Wallach from Visual Capitalist


a map of average wind speed across the continental U.S. in 2021

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Mapped: Average Wind Speed Across the U.S.

Wind energy is a hot topic in North America and around the world as a decarbonization tool, but full utilization requires a lot of wind.

This graphic from the team at the Woodwell Climate Research Center maps the average wind speed of the continental U.S. based on NOAA data from 2021.

Zooming in, you can examine North America’s wind regions and patterns in great detail. Clearly visible is the concentration of high wind speeds in the Great Plains (known as the Prairies in Canada), which has the greatest potential for wind power. You can also follow westerly winds traveling through the North American Cordillera of mountains, including the Rocky Mountains and Cascades.

Meanwhile, the Eastern U.S. and Canada have significantly lower average wind speeds, especially in the American South. That’s despite hurricanes with extremely high winds occasionally moving northward along the Eastern Seaboard towards the North Atlantic.

For more on on U.S. energy, head to Visualizing the Flow of U.S. Energy Consumption.

Animation: The World’s Biggest Wind Turbines


This post is by Bruno Venditti from Visual Capitalist


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Animation: Visualizing the World's Biggest Wind Turbines

The World’s Biggest Wind Turbines

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Since the early 2000s, wind turbines have grown in size—in both height and blade lengths—to generate more energy per unit.

Today, the tallest turbines can reach over 200 meters (650 ft) in height and cost more than $12 million to manufacture and install.

The above infographic uses data compiled from company portfolios to showcase the biggest wind turbines currently being developed and to put these huge structures into perspective.

Blade Runners

The biggest turbines are all located over water. The so-called offshore turbines can be taller than those onshore, which means they can harness more wind energy and produce more electricity.

MingYang Smart Energy, a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer, is in the process of building the biggest wind turbine so far.

Their new MySE 16.0-242 model is still under construction and is expected to be online by 2026. It will be 264 meters tall, with a blade length 118 meters long and rotor diameter of 242 meters. It features a nameplate capacity of 16 megawatts that can power 20,000 homes per unit over a 25-year service life. The first commercial turbine will be installed at the MingYang Yangjiang Qingzhou Four offshore wind farm, which is in the South China Sea.

Here are four of the biggest wind (Read more...)

Mapped: Solar and Wind Power by Country


This post is by Bruno Venditti from Visual Capitalist


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How Far Are We From Phasing Out Coal?

Mapped: Solar and Wind Power by Country

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Wind and solar generate over a tenth of the world’s electricity. Taken together, they are the fourth-largest source of electricity, behind coal, gas, and hydro.

This infographic based on data from Ember shows the rise of electricity from these two clean sources over the last decade.

Europe Leads in Wind and Solar

Wind and solar generated 10.3% of global electricity for the first time in 2021, rising from 9.3% in 2020, and doubling their share compared to 2015 when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed.

In fact, 50 countries (26%) generated over a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, with seven countries hitting this landmark for the first time: China, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Argentina, Hungary, and El Salvador.

Denmark and Uruguay achieved 52% and 47% respectively, leading the way in technology for high renewable grid integration.

RankTop CountriesSolar/Wind Power Share
#1?? Denmark51.9%
#2?? Uruguay46.7%
#3?? Luxembourg43.4%
#4?? Lithuania36.9%
#5?? Spain32.9%
#6?? Ireland32.9%
#7?? Portugal31.5%
#8?? Germany28.8%
#9?? Greece28.7%
#10?? United Kingdom25.2%

From a regional perspective, Europe leads with nine of the top 10 countries. On the flipside, the Middle East and Africa have the fewest countries reaching the 10% (Read more...)

Mapped: U.S. Wind Electricity Generation by State


This post is by Niccolo Conte from Visual Capitalist


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wind energy by state map

Mapping U.S. Wind Energy by State

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Wind power is the most productive renewable energy source in the U.S., generating nearly half of America’s renewable energy.

But wind doesn’t blow fairly across the nation, so which states are contributing the most to U.S. wind energy generation?

This map uses data from the EIA to show how much wind electricity different U.S. states generate, and breaks down wind’s share of total electricity generation in top wind power producing states.

Wind Electricity Generation by State Compared

America’s wind energy generating states are all primarily located in the Central and Midwest regions of the nation, where wind speeds are highest and most consistent.

Texas is the runaway leader in wind, generating over 92 Terawatt-hours of electricity during a year, more than the next three top states (Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas) combined. While Texas is the top generator in terms of wind-powered electricity, wind only makes up 20% of the state’s total electricity generation.

StateWind Electricity Generation (Terawatt hours)Wind's Share of Net Electricity Generation
Texas92.9 TWh20%
Iowa34.1 TWh58%
Oklahoma29.6 TWh35%
Kansas23.5 TWh43%
Illinois17.1 TWh10%
California13.6 TWh7%
North Dakota13.2 TWh31%
Colorado12.7 TWh23%
Minnesota12.2 TWh22%
Nebraska8.7 TWh24%

(Read more...)

The Clean Energy Employment Shift, by 2030


This post is by Omri Wallach from Visual Capitalist


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The Clean Energy Employment Shift Main

The Clean Energy Employment Shift, by 2030

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With many countries and companies pledged to reduce emissions, the clean energy transition seems to be an inevitability. And that transition will undoubtedly have an impact on employment.

New sources of power don’t just require new and updated equipment, they also require people to operate them. And as demand for cleaner fuels shifts attention away from fossil fuels, it’s likely that not every sector will see a net gain of employment.

This graphic shows projected global employment growth in the clean energy sector and related areas, under announced climate pledges as of 2021, as tracked by the IEA’s World Energy Outlook.

Which Sectors Will Gain Jobs By 2030?

In total, the clean energy transition is expected to generate 10.3 million net new jobs around the world by 2030.

Though fuel generation will definitely be affected by the clean energy transition, the biggest impact will be felt in modernizing energy infrastructure:

Clean Energy Jobs By Sector (to 2030)Jobs GainedJobs Lost Net Job Shift 
Efficiency3.2M03.2M
Cars2.6M02.6M
Power generation2.6M-0.3M2.3M
Grids1.6M01.6M
Bioenergy1.2M01.2M
End-use renewables1M01M
Innovative technologies0.9M00.9M
Critical minerals0.2M00.2M
Coal0-0.6M-0.6M
(Read more...)

Visualizing Copper’s Role in a Low-Carbon Economy



The following content is sponsored by Teck

Visualizing Copper’s Role in a Low-Carbon Economy

Climate change is top of mind for much of the world’s population.

The transition to renewable energy and electrification will require tons of metals, and copper is considered the most essential.

The above infographic from Teck outlines copper’s role in low-carbon technologies, highlighting why the red metal is essential for a low-carbon future.

Why Copper? 

Copper has been an essential material to man since prehistoric times. In fact, it is the oldest metal known, dating back more than 10,000 years and one of the most used because of its versatility.

The metal has four key properties that make it ideal for energy storage, propulsion for electrical vehicles (EVs), and renewable energy:

  • Conductivity: Copper has the highest electrical conductivity rating of all non-precious metals.
  • Ductility: Copper can easily be shaped into pipes, wires or sheets.
  • Efficiency: Copper’s thermal efficiency is about 60% greater than aluminum, so it can remove heat far more rapidly.
  • Recyclability: Copper is 100% recyclable and can be used repeatedly without any loss of performance.

In addition to its unique properties, copper remains relatively affordable, making it a key part of the energy transition.

A Cornerstone of the EV Revolution

EVs can use up to four times as much copper when compared to an internal combustion engine (ICE) passenger car. The amount goes up as the size of the vehicle increases: a fully electric bus uses between 11 and 18 times more copper (Read more...)

Uranium: Powering the Cleanest Source of Energy



The following content is sponsored by the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust

Uranium: Powering the Cleanest Source of Energy

The world’s energy needs are growing with its population. However, achieving a net-zero carbon economy while meeting our growing energy needs requires a larger role for clean, sustainable, and reliable sources. Nuclear is one such energy source.

The above graphic from the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust highlights how uranium is powering one of the cleanest and most reliable sources of energy in nuclear power.

The Cleanest Energy Sources

Although all energy sources have tradeoffs, some are better for the environment than others.

To find the cleanest sources of energy, Our World in Data calculated CO2-equivalent emissions per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity generated over the lifecycle of power plants for different energy sources. This includes the footprint of raw materials, transport, and construction of power plants.

Energy SourceCO2-equivalent Emissions Per GWh (tonnes)Type
Coal820Fossil fuel
Oil720Fossil fuel
Natural Gas490Fossil fuel
Biomass78-230*Non-renewable
Hydro34Renewable
Solar5Renewable
Wind4Renewable
Nuclear3Non-renewable

*Emissions from biomass vary depending on the type of fuel combusted.

It’s not surprising that coal, oil, and natural gas plants emit much more greenhouse gases than their renewable and non-renewable counterparts. In fact, emissions per GWh from coal power plants are roughly 273 times higher than nuclear power plants.

Hydropower offers a cleaner and renewable alternative to fossil fuels, however, the concrete and materials used in (Read more...)

Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources is Now Cheaper than Ever


This post is by Govind Bhutada from Visual Capitalist


renewable energy sources

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The Briefing

  • Electricity from new solar photovoltaic (PV) plants and onshore wind farms is now cheaper than electricity from new coal-fired power plants
  • The cost of electricity from solar PV plants has decreased by 90% since 2009

The Transition to Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable energy sources are at the center of the transition to a sustainable energy future and the fight against climate change.

Historically, renewables were expensive and lacked competitive pricing power relative to fossil fuels. However, this has changed notably over the last decade.

Renewables are the Cheapest Sources of New Electricity

Fossil fuel sources still account for the majority of global energy consumption, but renewables are not far off. The share of global electricity from renewables grew from 18% in 2009 to nearly 28% in 2020.

Renewable energy sources follow learning curves or Wright’s Law—they become cheaper by a constant percentage for every doubling of installed capacity. Therefore, the increasing adoption of clean energy has driven down the cost of electricity from new renewable power plants.

Energy SourceType2009 Cost (Read more...)

Visualizing the Copper Intensity of Renewable Energy



The following content is sponsored by Trilogy Metals.

Visualizing the Copper Intensity of Renewable Energy

The world is moving away from fossil fuels, towards large-scale adoption of clean energy technologies.

Building these technologies is a mineral-intensive process. From aluminum and chromium to rare earths and cobalt, the energy transition is creating massive demand for a range of minerals.

Copper is one such mineral, which stands out due to its critical role in building both the technologies as well as the infrastructure that allows us to harness their power.

The above infographic from Trilogy Metals highlights the role of copper in renewable energy, and how the adoption of wind and solar energy will affect its demand going forward.

Copper’s Role in Renewable Energy

Copper has one of the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of all metals. As a result, it’s the most widely-used mineral among energy technologies and is essential for all electricity-related infrastructure.

According to Navigant Research, here’s how much copper wind and solar farms use per megawatt:

TechnologyCopper Usage/MW (lbs)Copper Usage/MW (U.S. tons)Copper Usage/MW (tonnes)
Solar PV11,0005.54.99
Onshore Wind9,5204.764.32
Offshore Wind21,07610.549.56

Solar photovoltaics (PV) primarily rely on copper for cabling, wiring, and heat exchange due to its efficiency in conducting heat and electricity. Wind energy technologies make use of the red metal in their turbines, cables, and transformers. Offshore wind farms typically use larger amounts because they are connected to land via long undersea cables (Read more...)