You have probably stood outside with your chin tilted up enjoying the feel and sound of the wind. On the other hand, you’ve also probably battled with an upside-down umbrella or an attempt to get your car door to close on a particularly windy day. Either way, you know the wind can be powerful. But did you know we’ve found a way to harness the power of the wind to generate electrical power? Wind farms present a clean and renewable method of harvesting energy. Below, we explain what they are, what they do, and where to find the top 10 largest wind farms in the U.S.
Wind Farms and Their Purpose
Wind farms are also known as wind power plants and wind power stations. A wind farm is an area where many turbines are placed together to generate power from the wind. There are different sizes, some spanning across many miles with hundreds of turbines generating power.
You’ve heard of solar energy and wind energy falls under the solar energy umbrella. The sun heats the atmosphere unevenly and creates winds that the turbines use to generate power. Wind farm projects are planned carefully to be constructed in areas where there is high wind and a higher return on expensive investments (sometimes into the billions of dollars).
Put simply, wind farms generate energy, but what is the energy for? The energy generated by a wind farm bypasses the need for burning fuel (which means no air pollution). Therefore, the wind is readily available and aids wind farms in creating electricity to power in a clean and renewable way.
Aside from the immediate benefit of clean and renewable energy for hundreds of thousands of households, wind power also helps to create well-paying jobs. It stimulates the economy and assists local communities via state and local taxes. Hence, it’s a cost-effective solution that works in multi-use landscapes.
Wind Farm Challenges
Like with any project, there are always some challenges. When it comes to wind power, it has to be competitive with other low-cost energy sources. When there is not sufficient wind to ramp up power, costs may not be as competitive as those other options. However, there are opportunities to improve costs in these cases.
The windiest locations that generate the most power are found in remote areas and installation can be a challenge. Additionally, once installed, turbines have their own impacts like altering the aesthetic of an environment and producing noise unusual to the area. Although not comparable to other energy developments, wind farms also impact wildlife in the region they’re built.
Top 10 Largest Wind Farms in the U.S.
Discover the largest wind farms in the United States listed below.
1. Traverse Wind Project, LLC
Wind MW: 999
The Traverse Wind Energy Center takes first place as the largest wind farm found throughout North America and its size is notable, among one of the largest found throughout the globe. It’s spread throughout Blaine and Custer counties in Oklahoma. This is a 999-megawatt wind farm equipped with a total of 356 wind turbines. Its designs delivers power across three states, including its home base Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Invenergy and American Electric Power (AEP) take ownership of it via its subsidiaries. However, the Traverse Wind Energy Center didn’t become operational until 2022 after a $1.3 billion investment.
2. Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center
Wind MW: 735.5
At one point, Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center claimed the number one spot for the largest wind farm in the world. However, it is now the second-largest wind farm in the U.S. with a total of 735.5 megawatts. This wind farm is located in both Taylor and Nolan Counties in Texas. In addition, it’s owned by NextEra Energy via FLP Energy, its subsidiary, and boasts 421 GE Energy and Siemens turbines. FPL Energy also owns several other wind farms found throughout the U.S. and together, they have a combined capacity of 4,002 megawatts.
3. Capricorn Ridge Wind, LLC
Wind MW: 662.5
The Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm is located in Coke County. However, it doesn’t just deliver renewable wind energy. It also adds a tax base to these counties and energized economic activity via lease payments to the landowner. It creates zero water or air pollution and was designed to aid with the mitigation of climate change while reducing the need for fossil fuels. With its 662.5 megawatts, it generates enough power to sustain over 220,000 homes. There are a total of 342 GE Energy and Siemens wind turbines on this wind farm. Additionally, the four-phase plan continues with a goal of housing a total of 400 wind turbines.
4. Fowler Ridge Wind Farm, LLC
Wind MW: 600.3
The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm is one of the largest wind farms in the U.S. It can be found in Benton County, Indiana. Construction for this wind farm started in 2008, however, it wasn’t completed until seven years later in 2015. It sits on 50,000 acres and the owners are BP Alternative Energy North America, Dominion Resources, and Pattern Energy Group. This wind farm is one of the largest onshore wind farms found throughout the planet. It was built over a couple of phases. Today, it houses 355 Vestas, Clipper, and GE Energy turbines that together generate 600.3 megawatts.
5. Rush Creek Wind
Wind MW: 582.3
Rush Creek Wind is the largest wind farm completed with a single phase in Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit, Carson, and Lincoln Counties in Colorado. Construction began in 2017 with a $1 billion investment. Owned by Xcel Energy and constructed by Mortenson, this wind farm can generate 582.3 megawatts with a total of 300 Vestas turbines. The entire wind farm is spread across a total of 95,000 acres. In addition, it was constructed with the goal to generate enough power for 325,000 homes.
6. Aviator Wind
Wind MW: 525
Aviator Wind Farm is one of the largest farms in the U.S. It is located in Coke County, Texas. It’s an onshore wind farm that was planned to be developed in a single phase by Apex Clean Energy. The initial owner was Ares Management Corporation but eventually, Ares Management sold off nearly all stakes and only kept 0.5% ownership. There are a total of 191 GE Energy turbines that together generate 525 megawatts. This wind farm supplies energy to 196,000 homes. Construction began in 2019. However, only a year later in 2020, it was ready for commercial operation.
7. Sagamore Wind
Location: New Mexico
Wind MW: 522
Sagamore Wind is an onshore wind farm located in Roosevelt County, New Mexico. Initially, Invenergy owned the project but later, Xcel Energy took over and began planning the construction phases in 2017 with an intent to operate the farm via its subsidiary, Southwestern Public Service (SPS). The total cost of the Sagamore Wind Project was $900 million. By 2019, construction had started and by 2020, commercial operations began. This wind farm generates 522 megawatts, however, which is enough power for 194,000 households.
8. TB Flats
Wind MW: 503.2
TB Flats is one of the largest wind farms in the U.S. It is an onshore wind farm in Carbon County, Wyoming. It was developed by both Invenergy and Rocky Mountain Power. The total cost to build it was $766.356 million. TB Flats generates a total of 503.2 megawatts, however, powering 170,000 homes. The site sits across 44 square miles and has a total of 132 Vestas turbines.
9. Highland Wind Project
Wind MW: 502
The Highland Wind Project is located in Wayne County, Iowa. It was developed by Invenergy and the current owner is MidAmerican Energy. The total cost of this wind farm was $919.237 million. In addition, Highland Wind Project generates a total of 502 megawatts with 218 Siemens turbines.
10. Orient Wind Farm
Wind MW: 500.8
Orient Wind Farm is located in Adair County, Iowa. It was developed by both Invenergy and MidAmerican Energy, but the sole owner today is MidAmerican Energy. In addition, this wind farm generates a total of 500.8 megawatts with 150 wind turbines.
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