Exploring the Impact of Near-Term Innovations on the Technical Potential of Land-Based Wind Energy

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Land based wind may play a critical role in reaching emissions reductions goals and high renewable contribution scenarios with capacity expansion modeling results estimating over 1 terawatt of land-based wind by 2035 to reach 100% clean electricity (Denholm, 2022). Deployment of land-based wind at this magnitude may require significant investments in transmission infrastructure and will require significant land area for new wind and transmission (Denholm, 2022). Cost reductions via technological advancements in wind turbine design, construction, and maintenance will have a major role in enabling the scale of deployment required. Since 1998, the levelized cost of wind energy has fallen by over 60% due to improvements in capacity factors, advancements in turbine controls, and cost reductions in installation, operation, and maintenance (Wiser R. B., 2021). These cost reduction pathways, generally referred to as wind technology "innovations", have enabled significant increases in the capacity and electric generation share of wind power in the United States. Nevertheless, achievements of past wind innovations have not led to widespread wind deployment outside of high wind speed geographies. This study evaluates the potential of near-term innovations to expand the geographic range of economically viable land-based wind power production in the United States. Many challenges to future deployment of wind power can be associated with increasing concentration in high-wind areas. As more wind power is deployed in these same areas, it is likely that residential and regulatory resistance to further deployment will increase, access to transmission will diminish, and options for distant companies and governments with renewable energy goals will remain limited. Therefore, this analysis aims to emphasize the potential for innovations to enable land-based wind in regions with limited wind deployment and with lower wind resource and better access to transmission.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages50
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-81664


  • cost potential
  • innovations
  • land based wind
  • low specific power
  • tall wind
  • technical potential
  • wind technology


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