Join
Search

A Map of Every Wind Turbine in the U.S. — Interactive USGS Map Shows Locations of More than 47,000 (and Counting)

Bookmark and Share

With their tall towers and graceful kinetic ways (read: moving parts), wind turbines aren’t hard to spot if you’re near them. If you want to see the big picture, though, and how your local specimens fit within the national panorama for this exciting technology, a new map tool from the Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey makes that easy as pie. Here are the What, Why, and Whee.

What – The USGS WindFarm interactive web map shows the locations of the more than 47,000 wind turbines installed in the U.S. as of mid-2013. WindFarm and the data behind it cover all 50 states.

47,000 wind turbines, and counting - A screenshot from USGS WindFarm

A screenshot from USGS WindFarm – 47,000 wind turbines, and counting

Why – The USGS pulled together the data because of the lack of any “publicly available national-level data set of wind turbines,” and the importance of good information for good decision making:

Knowing the location of individual turbines, as well as information such as the make, model, height, area of the turbine blades, and capacity creates new opportunities for research, and important information for land and resource management. For example, turbine-level data will improve scientists’ ability to study wildlife collisions, the wakes causes by wind turbines, the interaction between wind turbines and ground based radar, and how wind energy facilities overlap with migratory flyways.

Whee – The new mapping tool is really easy to use, even for those of us who think that Google Earth is some patented new dirt. It offers simple search capabilities, good visuals, and, with just one more click, the make/model/height/etc. technical specs. There’s even a handy video tutorial.

A screenshot from USGS WindFarm showing a wind farm in central Washington State, with turbines color-coded by size.

A wind farm in central Washington State, with turbines color-coded by size.

A 100,000-foot glimpse of the transformation underway in the Midwest.

A 100,000-foot glimpse of the transformation underway in the Midwest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews have called WindFarmawesome” and “a game-changer for renewable energy.” I’d call it a welcome new tool in our understanding-energy toolbox. A mass of information, an easy-to-use interface, a few clicks, and you can feel smarter already about the energy transformation underway across the country.

 

Posted in: Energy Tags: , ,

About the author: John Rogers is a senior energy analyst with expertise in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and policies. He co-manages the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative (EW3) at UCS that looks at water demands of energy production in the context of climate change. He holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's degree from Princeton University. See John's full bio.

Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.

  • William Lem

    What we need is a phrase by which all can understand the power of a wind turbine. In other words
    Something like
    This so and so wind turbine can power 100 homes
    or this so and so wind turbine can power 5,000 homes.
    Etc.

  • Jim Stack

    As you can see from the maps wind is great in some areas and Solar is great in others. Geo-Thermal is good for many areas. We all have to use what is best for our area and work together.

    • http://www.ucsusa.org/about/staff/staff/john-rogers.html John Rogers

      You’re right, Jim: the answer to our energy needs doesn’t lie in one particular technology, and there’s exciting stuff going on with various renewable energy technologies. The just-released 2013 solar results show the great progress going on in that area, for example. Wind is interesting because of its high potential and low costs, but it’s great that we have a range of technologies that have come into play.

Comment Policy

UCS welcomes comments that foster civil conversation and debate. To help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion, please focus comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand, and refrain from personal attacks. Posts that are commercial, obscene, rude or disruptive will be removed.

Please note that comments are open for two weeks following each blog post. When commenting, you must use your real name. Valid email addresses are required. (UCS respects your privacy; we will not display, lend, or sell your email address for any reason.)