Home » Energy » Missouri Has A Big, Unused Wind Resource

Missouri Has A Big, Unused Wind Resource

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Figure 1. Source: Department of Energy.

Missouri is blessed with a significant wind energy resource, less than 1% of which is being exploited, according to data from the United States Department of Energy. In all of the following data, the speed of the wind has been measured at 80 meters above the ground, the typical tower height of a wind turbine.

Figure 1 shows the potential wind capacity of the United States by state. Texas has more wind potential than any other state, at 1.3 million megawatts. Missouri ranks 16th in most potential, with 279,000 megawatts.

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Figure 2. The map shows the estimated mean annual wind speeds at an 80-m height (262 feet). Source: Department of Energy.

Figure 2 shows where Missouri’s wind resource is located. According to the Department of Energy, an average annual wind speed of 6.0 meters per second is required to constitute a viable wind resource. On the map at right red represents average annual wind speeds of 7 – 7.5 meters/second, or about 16 mph, while orange represents average annual wind speeds of 6.5 – 7 meters/second. Missouri’s wind resource is located in a broad arc across the northern and western portions of the state.

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Figure 3. Source: Department of Energy.

Figure 3 shows installed wind power capacity by state. Texas again leads the way, with 24,899 megawatts of installed capacity. Iowa is second with 8,422 megawatts, and California is third with 5,885 megawatts. Missouri has 959 megawatts of installed capacity; that equals about 0.3% of our wind power potential.

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Figure 4. Source: United States Geological Survey.

Figure 4 shows the location of wind turbines installed in Missouri. You can see that they are all located in the northwest quadrant of the state.

 

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Figure 5. Source: Department of Energy.

Figure 5 shows the energy mix on the electrical grid in Missouri. About 73% of our electricity is generated by burning coal, about 13% is generated in a nuclear plant, only 8% is generated from natural gas, and only 3.58% from wind power. Given that wind power represents 3+% of our energy mix, but only 0.3% of our wind power potential, Missouri could generate much more of its electricity using wind power.

Figure 5 also shows the amount of electricity generated by wind power in Missouri by year. You can see that between 2008 and 2012 it grew, but then it plateaued until 2016, and has grown since then.

Climate change presents many challenges. Among the largest is transitioning to energy resources that don’t release carbon dioxide. The data above shows that Missouri has significant potential, but we have only begun to exploit it.

Sources:

United States Department of Energy. 2019. Wind Energy in Missouri. Downloaded 4/22/2019 from https://windexchange.energy.gov/states/mo.

United States Geological Service. 2018. The U.S. Wind Turbine Database. Downloaded 4/22/2019 from https://eerscmap.usgs.gov/uswtdb.


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