Wind power plants consist of a number of individual wind turbines that are generally operated through a common control center. The number can range from a few, to dozens, to hundreds of energy-producing turbines.
Wind projects that are 2,000 megawatts or larger have been proposed. Such large-scale wind projects will bring about new challenges and benefits and will require (and are large enough to justify) dedicated large-scale transmission to carry power long distances on land or shorter distances offshore to urban demand centers.
Accelerated growth of wind power in the United States would almost certainly require developing a number of these very large-scale projects, for several reasons:
- Siting constraints on traditional projects: Installing large numbers of turbines in remote regions minimizes landowner objections to dense turbine siting in populated areas.
- Geographic distribution of the wind resource: Most high-quality land-based wind resources in the nation are in mountain and plains states. The 20% Wind Scenario would require significant amounts of these resources to be captured.
- Development pace and scale of development: A few very large projects can add as much wind generation capacity as hundreds of traditional 100-MW projects and can be developed and built much more quickly.
- Restrictions on land-based deployment: Some energy-constrained coastal areas will depend on offshore wind resources that will require large-scale project development to reduce overall infrastructure costs.