The wind energy industry was abuzz last week with the release of a map from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory showing the extent of wind resources in the US.

The map represents the result of the first comprehensive update of potential wind power resources since the early 1990s, with the important addition of new technology and scale in the wind sector making the potential even greater.

Wind power has grown swiftly in the US in recent years, but has also been a beneficiary of robust tax incentives that are threatened by budget concerns and political inaction in Congress.

The biggest problem for further large-scale wind resource development may lie in the very isolation that makes putting up large turbines palatable, the DOE cautions.

“Factors other than wind resource availability will likely play a dominant role in determining how much of the wind resource illustrated in the map will ultimately be developed. A slow rate of projected electricity demand growth limits the amount of new generating capacity that is needed.”

“At the same time, the economic competitiveness of wind generation is sensitive to the future availability of incentives, such as the project tax credit, and to the cost of natural gas and other competing technologies.”

DOE finishes by saying: “The siting of transmission lines needed to move wind power from high-resource areas to major load centers and the allocation of costs for new transmission capacity are also significant issues under consideration by the Administration, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the States. On the other hand, capacity retirements and Renewable Portfolio Standards at the State level may work to spur growth in wind capacity.”

Click through here for the full Department of Energy post and the wind resources map.