Wind power in California
As of December 31, 2016, California has 5,662 megawatts (MW) of wind powered electricity generating capacity. California's wind power capacity has grown by nearly 350% since 2001, when it was less than 1,700 MW. In 2016, wind energy (including that supplied by other states) now supplies about 6.9% of California’s total electricity needs, or enough to power more than 1.3 million households. Most of California's wind generation is found in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, with some big projects in Solano, Contra Costa and Riverside counties as well. California is among the states with the largest amount of installed wind power capacity.
Wind power in California has been an area of considerable activity for many years. California was the first U.S. state where large wind farms were developed, beginning in the early 1980s. By 1995, California produced 30 percent of the entire world's wind-generated electricity. However, this situation has changed and Texas is currently the leader in wind power development in the USA.
Historically, most of California's wind power output has been in three primary regions: Altamont Pass Wind Farm (east of San Francisco); Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm (south east of Bakersfield) and San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm (near Palm Springs, east of Los Angeles). A fourth area, the Montezuma Hills of Solano County, was developed in 2005–2009, with the large Shiloh Wind Power Plant.
The Alta Wind Energy Center is a windfarm located in Tehachapi Pass in Kern County, California. Kern County is reviewing a number of other proposed wind projects that would generate a combined 4,600 megawatts of renewable energy if approved.
|Thousand Megawatt-hours of generated
energy since 2001
The graph at right shows the growth in wind generated electricity for California since 2001.
California had a total of 5,662 megawatts installed wind generation capacity, as of the end of December 2015. Wind energy (including power supplied from other state) now supplies about 5% of California’s total electricity needs.
In 2011, 921.3 megawatts of new production were installed. Most of that activity occurred in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, with some big projects in Solano, Contra Costa and Riverside counties as well. After leading the country for many years, California now ranks fourth nationwide in terms of capacity, behind Texas and Iowa, and Oklahoma. Due to higher average winds in the plains area of the U.S., California ranks fifth in wind generation.
California uses about 265,000 GWh each year.
Offshore wind potential
A 2009 Stanford University study of California offshore wind potential identified a site off Cape Mendocino that could provide uninterrupted year round power from a 1500 MW wind farm that would produce an average of 790 MW. Three types of offshore wind power were studied, with the conclusion that from 12,300 to 19,700 GWh/yr could be delivered from 1,997 to 3,331 MW of monopile wind turbines installed in up to 20 meter deep water, from 38,200 to 73,000 GWh/yr could be delivered from 6,202 to 12,374 MW of multi-leg wind turbines in 20 to 50 meter deep water, and from 462,100 to 568,200 GWh/yr from 73,025 to 91,707 MW of floating turbine foundation wind turbines in from 50 to 200 meter deep water, such as those being studied for use off the coast of Maine by the Ocean Energy Institute and the DeepCwind Consortium.
|California Wind Generation (GWh, Million kWh)|
- Renewable energy in the United States
- Wind power in the United States
- List of wind farms
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