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Pennsylvania's Potential for Wind Development
Pennsylvania has ample wind for large-scale energy development. Wind maps can be used to determine the energy potential of a given location in the state. For a close look at a particular area, an interactive, searchable online map of Pennsylvania wind resources is available at www.pawindmap.org.
PA Wind Resources: In Brief
Wind energy can be used with both large wind turbines for utility applications and with small wind turbines for on-site generation. Wind is classified according to wind power classes, which are based on typical wind speeds. These classes range from class 1 (the lowest) to class 7 (the highest). In general, wind power class 3 or higher can be useful for generating wind power with large (utility-scale) turbines, and small turbines can be used at any wind speed. Class 4 and above are considered good resources.
Click here to view a map from TrueWind Solutions showing the wind energy potential for the state of Pennsylvania.
What does this mean for Pennsylvania? First, developers only look at the land that has wind power resources in class 3 or higher, the minimum required for wind power development. Next, they eliminate land with urban development or land that is environmentally sensitive. Then developers subtract other land-use conflicts as well, so we subtract out 50% of forest land, 30% of farmland, and 10% of rangeland. This results in about 4% of the state of Pennsylvania having good winds and being available for development. Of note, a wind farm uses only a small portion of the land, so the actual percentage of state land covered would be about 0.4%.
If all this potential was developed with utility-scale wind turbines, the power produced each year would equal 38,000,000 megawatt-hours - or 30% of the entire state's electricity consumption. (Source: U.S. Department of Energy)