WASHINGTON, August 9, 2017 - Whether it’s onshore or offshore, Americans increasingly like wind energy. The Energy Department released three wind market reports Tuesday, documenting that America’s wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts (MW) of capacity last year – representing 27 percent of all energy capacity additions in 2016. Fourteen states now get more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind.
“The wind industry continues to install significant amounts of new capacity, and supplied about 6 percent of total U.S. electricity in 2016,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons. “As our reports explain, a combination of federal subsidies, state mandates, and technological advancements continue to help drive new wind capacity additions.”
- Wind power capacity in the United States experienced strong growth in 2016. 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.
- Prospects for growth beyond the current PTC cycle remain uncertain, given declining federal tax support, expectations for low natural gas prices, and modest electricity demand growth.
- 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 U.S, 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 percent of their electricity from wind, and 12 other states exceeded 10 percent (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 percent from 2015.
- In December 2016, Deepwater Wind completed the commissioning of the Block Island Wind Farm, marking the first commercial offshore wind project in the U.S.
- News of the declining costs for offshore wind projects in Europe spurred confidence in the domestic U.S. offshore wind market over the past year. Several states including Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland have enacted new policy or bolstered their existing policy to support the development of over 4,000 MW of offshore wind.
- Compared with traditional, centralized power plants, which send power over transmission lines to distant end-users, distributed wind energy installations supply power directly to homes, farms, businesses, and communities. In total, U.S. wind turbines in distributed applications reached a cumulative installed capacity of 992 MW. This capacity comes from roughly 77,000 turbines installed across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- U.S. manufacturers continued to dominate domestic sales of small wind turbines (up through 100 kilowatts), and half of U.S. small wind turbine manufacturers also export their products to other countries. Between 2014 and 2016, U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers accounted for more than $240 million in small wind turbine export sales.