Categorizing Distributed Wind Energy Installations in the United States to Inform Research and Stakeholder Priorities

Danielle Presuizo, Alice Orrell, Eric Lantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


Background: Distributed wind energy adoption in the United States can contribute to the diverse portfolio of energy technologies needed to achieve ambitious decarbonization goals. However, with limited deployment to date, the current distributed wind market must be better understood; these efforts will support the range of stakeholders who will drive successful deployment. This article first distinguishes three categories of distributed wind from existing literature: (1) behind the meter, (2) intended for explicit local load, and (3) physically distributed. A novel methodology to classify individual wind installations into each of these categories is then presented and applied to two data sets of wind installations in the United States to categorize and illuminate distinct segments in the distributed wind market. Results: Physically distributed installations, constituted by small to moderately sized projects serving local loads on distribution systems solely because of their proximity to them, account for the highest amount of capacity but the lowest number of installations out of the three categories. The inverse is true for behind-the-meter installations, which are used to serve on-site loads. Installations intended for explicit local load, which are interconnected on the utility side of the distribution system and intentionally built to provide energy to loads on the same distribution system, rank in the middle for both installed capacity and number of installations. Conclusions: Distributed wind energy deployment in the United States is geographically widespread, but the extent to which a single category is developed in each state varies. Policies, wind resources, and broad energy technology trends contribute to these deployment patterns. By identifying the extent to which each category of installations exists, decision-makers are empowered with data necessary to tailor research and development programs and address stakeholder priorities through policy and other means, ultimately supporting future deployment.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number31
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy, Sustainability and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Battelle Memorial Institute and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-82483


  • Distributed wind
  • Market categorization
  • Wind energy


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