Love staring at a map and discovering something interesting? Then “Mapping the Great Lakes” is for you. It’s a monthly Great Lakes Now feature created by Alex B. Hill, a self-described “data nerd and anthropologist” who combines cartography, data, and analytics with storytelling and human experience. He’s the founder of DETROITography and authored “Detroit in 50 Maps,” a book published in 2021. Find all his Great Lakes Now work HERE.
Huge breezes are commonplace around the Great Lakes, which is part of why the region makes a good location for wind turbines.
Though wind power has been utilized for centuries, it has only been harnessed as a widespread alternative energy source as recently as the 1990s.
In 2016, the United States Geological Survey began tracking wind turbines. In 2018, it published a database with wind turbine records that it keeps regularly updated. To date, there are 70,808 turbines covering 44 states and territories, which includes Guam and Puerto Rico.
In Canada, the Canadian Wind Turbine Database is maintained by Natural Resources Canada. The Canadian database is not as frequently updated as the U.S. database but reflects all wind turbines installed up through 2020.
In the map, the largest concentration of wind turbines is along the Canadian side of Lake Huron in Ontario. The southern border of Minnesota, the plains of Illinois, and the thumb area of Michigan also highlight as areas with a higher density of wind turbines.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both have significant plans to increase funding for alternative energy programs in order to reach net-zero energy emissions by 2050. The Biden administration has already approved two large-scale wind turbine projects in Massachusetts and Rhode Island with the hopes of building 16 off-shore wind energy projects by 2025. The Canadian government recently announced a $25 million investment in wind turbine manufacturing in Quebec where the world’s largest wind turbine blades will be made.
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Featured image: Shirley Wind Farm in Green Bay, Wisc. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Energy)