Wind power in Iowa

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Hancock County Wind Energy Center in Hancock County, Iowa, with 148 Vestas V47-660kW wind turbines for a total nameplate capacity of 97.68 MW. Half of the wind turbines are southwest of Klemme and the other half are south-southeast of Duncan. NextEra Energy Resources owns the wind farm, which began operating in 2002.

Iowa is a leading U.S. state in wind power generation with 24.5% of the state's electricity generation coming from wind in 2012.[1] With the completion of several projects in mid-2012, wind power in Iowa has 5,137 megawatts (MW) of capacity, third only to Texas and California.[2]

Since Iowa adopted a renewable energy standard in 1983, the wind power industry has generated almost $5 billion in investment.[3]


The development of wind power in Iowa began with the enactment in 1983 of a state law that required investor-owned utilities in the state to buy a total of 105 MW of power from wind generated electricity, one of first renewable electricity portfolio standards. This provided assurance to those building wind power installations that there would be a market for the electricity they produced.[4]

Installed wind power capacity in Iowa grew quickly in 2008 and 2009. In their end of year report for 2009, the American Wind Energy Association reported that the installed wind power capacity in Iowa was 3670 MW.[5] Only Texas and California have higher amounts of installed wind power capacity. Wind power installations increased by 879 MW from a year earlier. In the prior year, 2008, over 1500 MW of wind power generation was installed. Also in 2008, Iowa overtook the historical leader in wind power, California.

Iowa has the highest density of wind power generation capacity.

In 2010 and in 2009, Iowa led the U.S. in the percentage of electrical power generated by wind, at 15.4 percent and 14.2 percent.[6] This was up from 7.7 percent in 2008, as there was a large increase in the installed capacity in 2008. [7] Some of the wind power generated electricity is sold to utility companies in nearby states, such as Wisconsin,[8] and Illinois.[9]

Wind farms are most prevalent in the north and west portion of Iowa. Wind maps show the winds in these areas to be stronger on average, making them better suited for the development of wind energy. Average wind speeds are not consistent from month to month. Wind maps show wind speeds are on average strongest from November through April, peaking in March. August is the month with the weakest average wind speeds.[10][11] On a daily cycle, there is a slight rise in average wind speeds in the afternoon, from 1 to 6 p.m.[12] Estimates by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) indicate Iowa has potentially 570,700 Megawatts of wind power using large turbines mounted on 80 meter towers.[13] Iowa ranks seventh in the country in terms of wind energy generation potential due to the strong average wind speeds in the midsection of the U.S.[4] The Iowa Environmental Mesonet, with over 450 stations, is a resource available to monitor current weather and wind conditions and provide data for modelling and predicting wind power.[14]

The average capacity factor of Iowa wind farms has been estimated as 33.3% by a wind industry consultant.[15] Several of the newer projects are the large 440 MW Rolling Hills project near Massena, the Elk Wind Farm near Greeley, and Pocahontas Prairie project northeast of Pomeroy. All were constructed in 2011, although the Pocahontas Prairie project wasn't online until early 2012.[16][17][18]

According to the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, lack of transmission line capacity is beginning to restrict further growth of wind farms in the state.[19] A report from the NREL acknowledges that this is a major hurdle to increased wind power development in the U.S.[20] A high voltage DC line that would transmit power from near Sioux City to the Chicago area has been proposed.[21]

MidAmerican Energy has started construction on five projects in Iowa totaling over 1,000 MW of capacity. The projects, expected to be completed by the end of 2015, are in O'Brien, Marshall, Webster, Grundy, and Madison counties. This will involve construction of about 560 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens. At a cost of some 1.9 billion dollars, this will be Iowa's largest economic development project to date. The largest project, the Highland project in O'Brien county, will have 500 MW of capacity, making it Iowa's largest.[22][23]

Windpower industry[edit]

A number of companies involved in the windpower industry have office or manufacturing facilities in Iowa. Blades for wind turbines are manufactured in Newton by TPI Composites and in Fort Madison by Siemens. Turbines are manufactured in Cedar Rapids by Clipper Windpower and in West Branch by Acciona. Towers are also manufactured in Newton by Trinity Structural Towers. Companies manufacturing other parts for wind turbines are located in Iowa as well.[24]

In addition to manufacturing, various companies support the development of wind power projects.[24] The wind power industry employs more than 3000 people in Iowa.[4]

In late September 2007, Siemens Power Generation opened its new wind turbine blade factory in Fort Madison, on the banks of the Mississippi River. The factory can produce more than 2000 blades annually.[25] A plant expansion in 2008 brought the facility up to nearly 600,000 square feet, up from 310,000. The facility manufactures 148-foot (45 m)-long, 12-ton blades for the company's 2.3-MW wind turbines installed in the United States.[26]

Clipper Windpower manufactures its 2.5 MW Liberty wind turbine at its Cedar Rapids location. This model is being used in the Endeavor project in northwest Iowa and in the huge Titan Wind Project in South Dakota.

The Iowa Office of Energy Independence (OEI) is tasked with determining policy and setting goals towards renewable energy production. The office seeks to coordinate efforts between industry, community leaders, state and local government, and educational institutions to achieve energy policy goals.[24]

List of wind farms in Iowa[edit]

Wind power in Iowa is located in Iowa
Story County
Buena Vista
Top of Iowa
Des Moines
Cedar Rapids
Sioux City
Wind power projects in Iowa
  Green pog.svg Operating
  Orange pog.svg Under construction
  Blue pog.svg Proposed

The following is a list of some of the wind projects in Iowa.

Name, Location
Top Of Iowa - near Joice, west of I-35
Intrepid - between Schaller and Storm Lake, north of U.S. 20
Story County I - north of Colo
Story County II - south of Humboldt, Story and Hardin counties [27]
Pomeroy - between Pomeroy and Fonda, along Iowa 7
Endeavor - near Lake-Park, Harris along Iowa 9
Century - north of Blairsburg, along U.S. 69, west of I-35
Buena Vista - Alta, Peterson, Truesdale area
Victory - near Arcadia and Westside, U.S. 30[28]
Carroll - northwest of Carroll, near Mt. Carmel & Breda
Hancock County - Klemme
Hardin Hilltop - north of Jefferson, 7 towers
Charles City - west of Charles City
Walnut - near Walnut (n.e. of Council Bluffs), mostly south of I-80
Whispering Willow Wind Farm - Franklin County, between Hampton and Iowa Falls
Adair - South of Adair, near I-80[29]
Barton -near Kensett, east of I-35[30]
Crystal Lake - between Buffalo Center and Crystal Lake, Hancock and Winnebago Counties
Pioneer Prairie - Howard & Mitchell Counties
Crosswind Energy - southeast of Ruthven, U.S. 18[31]
Lost Lakes - West of Milford - Dickinson County
Iowa Lakes Superior - near Superior, U.S. 71[32][33]
Iowa Lakes Lakota - near Lakota, Iowa 9[32]
Laurel - west of Laurel[34]
Elk - Greeley[34]
Hawkeye - near Hawkeye & Richfield[34]
Rippey - between Rippey & Grand Jct[34]
Vienna - south of Gladbrook[34]
Other wind farms can be found at the Wind turbines and wind farms database.[35]

The Spirit, Endeavor, Buena Vista, Lost Lakes, and Crosswind Energy wind farms are all located upon the Coteau des Prairies, a slightly elevated area that results in the windiest locations in Minnesota and Iowa. Coteau des Prairies is sometimes referred to as Buffalo Ridge, which is actually a specific ridge within the area, mostly in Minnesota.

Power from the Iowa Lakes Superior and Iowa Lakes Lakota projects is used by ethanol fuel plants in their respective communities.[32] This marks the first use of wind power being used to supply energy to produce another renewable energy source.[33]

Wind generation[edit]

Iowa Wind Generation (GWh, Million kWh)[36]
Iowa Wind Generation in 2012

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Electic Power Monthly data for Decemember 2012" (PDF). Report. U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 26 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "AWEA 4th quarter 2012 Public Market Report". American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). January 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ Jim Witkin (August 18, 2011). "A Republican Shout-Out for Wind Energy". New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b c Wiser, Mike. "Wind energy helping power Iowa economy". Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "AWEA Year End 2009 Market Report". American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). January 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-29. [dead link]
  6. ^ Energy Information Administration - Electric Power Monthly March 2011
  7. ^ Energy efficiency. Rethinking the energy system here in the U.S.
  8. ^ Crane Creek Wind Farm
  9. ^ Iberdrola in deal to sell power from Iowa wind farm
  10. ^ Iowa wind maps
  11. ^ Iowa monthly wind maps
  12. ^ Geography and Wind - Iowa Energy Center
  13. ^ Iowa policy project
  14. ^ Meteorology -IAWIND
  15. ^ Iowa Utilities Board
  16. ^ Elk Wind Farm construction
  17. ^ Rolling Hills wind farm construction
  18. ^ Pomeroy (Gamesa) wind farm
  19. ^ Chernova, Yuliya (October 19, 2009). "The Answer Is Blowing in…Iowa". The Wall Street Journal. 
  20. ^ NREL Eastern Area Wind Energy Study
  21. ^ Transmission Line Proposed for Iowa
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ a b c Iowa Office of Energy Independence
  25. ^ Siemens produces 5,000th blade at Fort Madison facility
  26. ^ Siemens' Fort Madison facility facts
  27. ^ Google buys power from Iowa wind farm
  28. ^ Victory I – Iowa
  29. ^ dead link
  30. ^ Iberdrola Renewables Supplies 50 Megawatts to We Energies from Barton Wind Power Project
  31. ^ Iowa wind farms supported by USDA Renewable Energy Program
  32. ^ a b c Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative Lakota and Superior projects
  33. ^ a b Superior wind farm
  34. ^ a b c d e "RPMAccess Projects". RPMAccess. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  35. ^ Iowa
  36. ^ "Electic Power Monthly data for June 2013" (PDF). U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. June 2013. Retrieved July 2, 2013. 

External links[edit]