The US has been one of the frontrunners in embracing renewable energy as a way of reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Although hydropower remains the US’s largest energy contributor, the country’s wind energy is the second-largest source of clean energy. As of 2017, the US had a capacity of 229.9GW in renewable energy from 116.4 GW in 2008. Another report released in July 2017 indicated that the country had 14,004 MW of wind projects under construction. Below is a list of the five biggest wind farms in the US;
1. Alta Wind Energy Centre-1,550MW
The Alta Wind Energy Centre is located in Tehachapi, Kern County, California, and the biggest wind farm in the United States. The facility has a capacity of around 1,550MW and the power is sold to Southern California Edison. The power utility has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with, Terra-Gen Power, the developers of the wind farm.
The wind farm covers an area of approximately 50 square miles (130 square kilometers) within the Tehachapi Pass. It consists of multiple phases and features over 600 wind turbines.
The wind plant is also called Mojave Wind Farm and its first five units were launched in 2011. In 2010, Vestas, a Danish wind turbine manufacturer won a contract to supply 190 units of its V90-3.0 MW model wind turbine for the Alta project.
2. Los Vientos Wind Farm-910MW
The Los Vientos Wind Farm was completed in five phases and has a total capacity of 910MW. The wind farm was constructed by Duke Energy Renewables, one of the commercial subsidiaries of Duke Energy. The Los Vientos I and II wind farms were launched in December 2012 and have a combined capacity of 402MW.
The 200MW Los Vientos 1 wind farm has 87 Siemens SWT-2.3-108 turbines and occupies more than 30,000 acres. The Los Vientos II has 84 Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (MHI) MWT 102 wind turbines and generates 202MW. The Los Vientos III and IV wind farms include 200 turbines supplied by Vestas.
3. Shepherds Flat Wind Farm-845MW
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is located near Arlington in Eastern Oregon and one of the biggest wind farms in the US. The wind power facility was developed by Caithness Energy and has a capacity of 845MW. The wind farm is located on more than 30 square miles of area in the Gilliam and Morrow counties. The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm was built at a cost of $2 billion and its construction started in 2009.
The wind farm is connected to the power grid through a 230-kilovolt transmission line that connects to the Bonneville Power Administration’s McNary Substation near Umatilla, Oregon. This enables the generated electricity to be transmitted and distributed to consumers.
In 2010, the US Department of Energy announced a loan guarantee of $1.3bn for the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm. The wind project was opened for commercial activities in 2012. The project was put together using 338 GE2.5XL turbines and has a capacity of 2.5MW. The power from the wind plant is sold to Southern California Edison.
4. Roscoe Wind Farm-781MW
The Roscoe Wind Farm is a 781MW facility and the fourth largest wind facility in the US. The facility is located 45 miles south-west of Abilene in Texas. The Roscoe Wind Farm is operated by E.ON Climate in partnership with Germany-based Renewables (EC&R). The project was assembled using 627 wind turbines and was constructed in four phases between 2007 and 2009.
The first two phases of the project generated a capacity of 325.5MW while the third and fourth phases generated a combined capacity of 446MW.
The Roscoe Wind Farm generates a substantial amount of clean energy. It has the capacity to produce enough electricity to power approximately 265,000 average American homes annually.
5.Traverse Wind Energy Center -999MW
The Traverse Wind Energy Center in Oklahoma was completed in April 2022. With a capacity of 999 megawatts (MW), the Traverse facility stands as one of the largest wind farms in the United States and holds the distinction of being the largest wind farm developed in one phase in North America. Anticipated by project developers, the wind farm is expected to generate sufficient electricity to meet the needs of approximately 300,000 homes on an annual basis.
The Traverse wind farm comprises a total of 356 wind turbines and forms part of the broader North Central Energy Facilities project, which encompasses the nearby Sundance (199 MW) and Maverick (288 MW) wind farms.
The Sundance wind farm commenced operations in April 2021, while the Maverick wind farm went online in September 2021.
Notably, all three wind projects are equipped with turbines designed to withstand cold weather conditions, boasting features such as heaters that ensure critical components remain warm. This enables the turbines to operate effectively even at temperatures as low as -22°F.