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Wind Energy

April 19, 2018
Paul Gipe

US Wind Turbine Database On-Line Mapping Tool Launches

The United States Wind Turbine Database (USWTDB) has gone live according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) press release.

The web-based program allows the public to access data on any large wind turbine or group of large wind turbines in the United States. A joint project of LBNL, the American Wind Energy Association, and the US Geological Survey, the database for the first time offers a picture of wind development across the country, including Alaska, at any desired scale.

The database contains comprehensive information for most large wind turbines currently installed. The data includes the name of the project, turbine manufacturer, rotor diameter, generator capacity, coordinates, when installed, and tower height.

Projects such as these are never complete and it will be a challenge for the parties to stay on top of new installations as well as updating existing errors in the database. I found some omissions right away, but I was looking for some obscure projects in preparation for an upcoming lecture. I was pleasantly surprised to find installed turbines I didn't now existed in my home state of Indiana, for example.

I couldn't find a description of the size cut-off for inclusion in the database. I found turbines as small as Enertech's E44, a 40 kW model installed in a northern California wind farm in the early 1980s. I also found numerous examples of AOC and Entegrity 50 kW models that were themselves a spinoff from the E44. I found one Bergey XL50 and many--though not all--of Northern Power Systems NPS 100 in the database.

For students of geography, as well as students of renewable energy, the database offers a view of the scale of wind energy in the United States at a glance. Yet users can drill down to individual turbines and their location on the terrain. With this information, users can then turn to Google or Bing maps and examine the specific location of a wind turbine. In many cases Google or Bing will also provide a street view of the turbine from the nearest roadway.

Kudos to the US Department of Energy for funding this project and to the participants for making it happen. The US Wind database is a powerful resource that's been long overdue.


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