Wind Science Program


  Iowa View: It's Time for Iowa to Lead on Climate Change


  Des Moines Suburb to Consider Allowing Larger Turbines Within City Limits

    June 18, 2013
    The city of Johnston, IA is considering updating its ordinance for wind turbines. Currently, only turbines that generate at most 100 kilowatts and sit on either rooftops or single poles are legal in the Des Moines suburb. However, DuPont Pioneer wants that to change. The company wishes to build a 2 MW wind turbine in one of its fields, standing 410 feet tall, and is working to add an amendment to Johnston's turbine ordinance. An amendment could allow for larger turbines to be built on on properties over 200 acres in size, and would also set regulations for turbine height and distance from residential buildings. DuPont Pioneer's proposed turbine would sit 3,200 feet from the nearest residence, exceeding MidAmerican Energy's safety regulation of at least 1,000 feet, and would also be placed 1,300 feet from the nearest DuPont Pioneer building. Look for updates on this story in the future. Soon, turbines may be dotting the Des Moines horizon!

    Proposed locations for DuPont Pioneer's 2 MW turbine. Click to enlarge.

  US to Begin Leasing Offshore Areas for Wind Energy Projects

    June 18, 2013
    Earlier this month, the Interior Department announced that the federal government will hold its first lease sale for offshore wind projects. The sale, to occur at the end of July, will offer 164,750 acres of federal waters to commercial turbine development. If fully developed, the area off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts could produce up to 3,400 MW, enough to power more than one million homes. The lease sale will only be available to nine bidders that have met various qualifications to build offshore turbines. Though this is the first advancement for turbines to be placed in federal waters, other private offshore wind projects are currently in various stages of development.

  Iowa State Aims to Characterize Offshore Winds

    June 12, 2013
    Researchers at Iowa State University, in concert with Anemometry Specialists, are in the middle of a two-year study of offshore winds. The study, which started in summer of 2012, has established the goal of developing a greater understanding of winds in the lowest 300 meters of the atmosphere over open water.

    With wind resources for offshore sites being highly uncertain, there is a need to take more measurements in these areas to assess the offshore wind resources. Therefore, ISU and Anemometry Specialists have developed the use of a moored buoy-tethered, blimp-mounted instrumentation platform to take these measurements. This unique balloon-buoy-instrument combination is estimated to cost at least 90% less compared to offshore meteorological towers. Additionally, the total cost of energy for an offshore wind farm could be reduced by up to 4% if a buoy-based system was used for wind resource assessment rather than an offshore meteorological tower. A 4% reduction in wind plant cost of energy is significant because wind resource assessment costs are incurred while there is uncertainty in whether the wind plant will even be commissioned and any possible recouping of expenses is years in the future.

    Examples of the blimp, buoy, and instrument platforms used in the study. Click to enlarge.

  Dr. Julie Lundquist Wins Rising Star Award

    June 11, 2013
    On May 7, 2013, the Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) Awards were announced at the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference in Chicago, IL. Among the award winners was Dr. Julie Lundquist, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder with a joint appointment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Dr. Lundquist was named the Rising Star of 2013, an award given to "a woman who is relatively new to wind energy and is already making significant professional contributions by demonstrating unusual talent, dedication and innovation in her renewable energy work." Julie has studied the effects of atmospheric stability and turbulence on wind energy forecasting and wind turbine performance, including working with Iowa State's Dr. Gene Takle taking LIDAR measurements using the CU/NREL WindCube during the first year of CWEX. Lundquist's research has revealed relationships in the atmospheric boundary layer that affect wind resource assessment and wind energy forecasting.

  Longest Turbine Blade Made in U.S. Headed for Testing

    June 10, 2013
    On May 29, 2013, Vestas rolled out the longest wind turbine blades to be made in the U.S. Measuring 57.5 meters in length, three different prototypes were manufactured in Brighton, Colorado beginning in December 2012. But these blades aren't headed to a U.S. wind farm just yet. In fact, the blades are on a journey to a testing site in Denmark. The trip, expected to take weeks, includes loading the blades on extra-long semi trailors, sending them to Houston, and then transporting them to Denmark via ship. While in Denmark, the blades will be tested by a third party to verify their production capabilities before making their way to the mass market.

    The new wind turbine blades, named the V117, are designed for low to medium wind areas. As more and more turbines go up in the country, fewer areas of high wind speeds are available to place new turbines. Therefore, Vestas designed these blades for turbines going up in lower wind speed areas to maximize production. Power generated by a turbine is proportional to the area swept, so longer blades mean more power generation. As technology continues to improve and companies look to potential offshore wind projects, look for even longer blades to make an appearance here in the U.S.

  MidAmerican Energy Announces $1.9 Billion Wind Energy Investmest in Iowa

    May 30, 2013
    Plans for MidAmerican to build new wind turbines in Iowa were recently announced, and the plans are big! Up to 656 new turbines, which equate to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation, will be built by the end of year 2015 in the state. This project will come at no net cost to the company's customers, and estimates show over $360 million in property tax revenues will be made. Additionally, $3.2 million per year will be paid to the landowners, providing an extra source of income for farmers in an era of extreme droughts and floods. The project is also expected to create approximately 460 temporary construction jobs for two years, as well as 48 permanent jobs in Iowa.

    To date, MidAmerican Energy has installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa, or 2,285 megawatts of wind generation capacity. This equates to a total investment of approximately $4 billion. The energy company, headquartered in Des Moines, is leading the nation in ownership of wind generation capacity among rate-regulated utilities. When all of the new turbines are operating by January 2016, an estimated 39% of MidAmerican's energy generation will come from wind. The $1.9 billion price tag is the largest economic development in Iowa's history.

  Wind Turbine on Iowa State's Campus

    May 16, 2013
    On December 19, 2012, a new wind turbine placed on Iowa State's campus began generating power. The turbine, located in the northeast corner of campus between the university power plant and CyRide hub, is rated at 100 kilowatts and stands at 160 feet tall. The turbine is expected to generate about $18,000 worth of electricity annually. Real-time data from the turbine can be found here.

    Additional news items published by ISU regarding the turbine:
    Turbine is turning - Dec 20, 2012
    Wind turbine is symbol of renewable energy - Nov 1, 2012
    Video: New wind turbine helping power campus - Jan 15, 2013

  2012 WESEP REU Comes to a Close

    Aug 10, 2012
    For ten weeks during the summer of 2012, ten students from universities across the country worked with faculty and graduate students here at Iowa State University, learning about and researching issues related to wind energy science, engineering and policy. The WESEP REU program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, and was held from June 4 to August 10, 2012. To conclude the program, the REU students presented their research at a symposium and authored research papers. The proceedings of the student research reports can be found here. For more information on the WESEP REU, please go to

    REU students visit meteorological measurement stations in a wind farm. Click to enlarge.

  WindCube in Iowa

    Aug 1, 2010
    Wind Science Program members welcomed Dr. Julie Lundquist and her students to Iowa State for a two-week period in July 2010. The collaboration involved the deployment of the CU/NREL WindCube LIDAR and four flux towers within the Colo, Iowa wind farm. The LIDAR was posititioned behind a row of five turbines and captured data for more than one week. With generally fair weather conditions and winds from varying directions, the collaboration was considered a success.

    The CU/NREL WindCube with ISU and CU wind research team members. Click to enlarge.

  New Estimates of Nation's Wind Energy Potential

    Feb 26, 2010
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released new estimates of the U.S. potential for wind-generated electricity, tripling previous estimates of the size of the nation's wind resources. The new study, which was carried out by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and AWS Truewind, finds that the contiguous 48 states have the potential to generate up to 37 million gigawatt hours annually. By contrast, total U.S. electricity generation from all sources was roughly 4 million gigawatt hours in 2009. This estimate shows the total energy yield that could be generated using current wind turbine technology on the nation's windy lands. However, it should be noted that the estimates show what is possible, not what will actually be developed.

    Along with the state-by-state estimates of wind energy potential, NREL and AWS Truewind have developed wind resource maps for the United States and for the contiguous 48 states that show the predicted average wind speeds at an 80-meter height. The wind resource maps and estimates provide local, state, and national policymakers with accurate information about the nature of the wind resource in their areas and across the nation, helping them to make informed decisions about wind energy in their communities.

    The new estimates reflect substantial advances in wind turbine technology that have occurred since the DOE's last national wind resource assessments were conducted in 1993. For example, previous wind resource maps showed predicted average wind speeds at a height of 50 meters, which was the height of most wind turbine towers at the time. The new maps show predicted average wind speeds at an 80-meter height, the height of today's turbines. Because wind speed generally increases with height, turbines built on taller towers can capture more energy and generate more electricity. The new estimates also incorporate updated capacity factors, reflecting improvements in wind turbine efficiency due to turbine design and performance advancements.