dataset : Wind Energy Resource Data

National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Wind Energy Resource Data

NREL's Geographic Information System (GIS) team offers both a national wind resource assessment of the United States and high-resolution wind data. The national wind resource assessment was created for the U.S. Department of Energy in 1986 by the Pacific Northwest Laboratory and is documented in the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States, October 1986. This national wind resource data provides an estimate of the annual average wind resource for the conterminous United States, with a resolution of 1 3 degree of latitude by 1 4 degree of longitude. The wind resource assessment was based on surface wind data, coastal marine area data, and upper-air data, where applicable. In data-sparse areas, three qualitative indicators of wind speed or power were used when applicable: topographic meteorological indicators (e.g. gorges, mountain summits, sheltered valleys); wind deformed vegetation; and eolian landforms (e.g. playas, sand dunes). The data was evaluated at a regional level to produce 12 regional wind resource assessments; the regional assessments were then incorporated into the national wind resource assessment. The conterminous United States was divided into grid cells 1 4 degree of latitude by 1 3 degree of longitude. Each grid cell was assigned a wind power class ranging from 1 to 6, with 6 being the windiest. The wind power density limits for each wind power class are shown in Table 1-1. Each grid cell contains sites of varying power class. The assigned wind power class is representative of the range of wind power densities likely to occur at exposed sites within the grid cell. Hilltops, ridge crests, mountain summits, large clearings, and other locations free of local obstruction to the wind will be well exposed to the wind. In contrast, locations in narrow valleys and canyons, downwind of hills or obstructions, or in forested or urban areas are likely to have poor wind exposure.

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