The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) just released three wind market reports pointing to sustained growth in wind energy across the country.
America’s wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts (MW) of capacity last year, representing 27% of all energy capacity additions in 2016. In 2016, wind supplied about 6% of U.S. electricity, and 14 states now get more than 10% of their electricity from wind.
The reports cover the following market sectors: land-based utility scale, offshore, and distributed wind.
Incentives a driving factor
Recent and projected near-term growth is supported by the industry’s primary federal incentive — the production tax credit (PTC) — as well as myriad state-level policies. Wind additions have also been driven by improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies, yielding low power sales prices for utility, corporate, and other purchasers.
2016 Wind Technologies Market Report
Key findings from the 2016 Wind Technologies Market Report by the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
- Utility-scale wind installations stand at more than 82 GW, enough to meet about 6.2% of U.S. end-use electricity demand in an average year.
- In total, 40 states and Puerto Rico operated utility-scale wind projects. Texas led the nation in capacity with over 20 GW of wind installed; utility-scale wind came online in North Carolina in early 2017.
- The report also finds that wind energy continues to be sold at attractive prices through power purchase agreements, making this renewable energy source cost-competitive with traditional power sources such as natural gas in many parts of the USA, especially when wind energy is sold at a fixed price over 20 years.
- In the past year, Iowa and South Dakota produced more than 30% of their electricity from wind, and 12 other states exceeded 10% (Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado, Vermont, Idaho, Maine, Texas, Oregon, New Mexico, Nebraska).
- The report also shows the impact of growing the American workforce, currently supporting 101,738 jobs related to project development, siting, turbine manufacturing, transportation, and other sectors — an increase of 32% from 2015.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), American wind energy nearly doubled from about 120 million megawatt hours generated in 2011 to more than 226 million megawatt hours in 2016, which represents about 6% of U.S. electricity generation.