Wind power grows across the USA, says Energy Department

The US Energy Department has released three wind power market reports highlighting continued growth nationwide. The USA’s wind industry added more than 8.2 GW of capacity in 2016, representing 27 percent of all energy capacity additions in 2016.

In 2016, wind supplied about 6 percent of the USA’s electricity needs; 14 states now get more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind. The reports cover the following market sectors: land-based utility scale, offshore, and distributed wind.

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 power 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.

“The wind industry continues to install significant amounts of new capacity,” said acting assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, Daniel Simmons. “A combination of federal subsidies, state mandates, and technological advancements continue to help drive new wind capacity additions.”

The 2016 Wind Technologies Market Report, written by the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, highlighted that more than 82 GW of utility-scale projects have been installed in the USA. In total, 40 states and Puerto Rico operated utility-scale wind projects, with Texas leading the nation in capacity with over 20 GW of installed capacity.

The report also finds that wind energy continues to be sold at attractive prices through power purchase agreements (PPA), 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.

The 2016 Offshore Wind Technologies Market Report says that the offshore wind project development pipeline in the USA includes over 20 projects, totaling 24.1 GW of potential installed capacity. Most of the near-term activity is concentrated in the Atlantic off the northeast coast, but projects have been proposed in the southeast Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes.

News of the declining costs for offshore wind projects in Europe spurred confidence in the domestic US offshore wind market over the past year. Several states including Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland have enacted new policies or bolstered their existing policies to support the development of over 4 GW of offshore wind.

Key findings from the 2016 Distributed Wind Market Report says that approximately 992 MW of distributed wind power capacity is installed in the USA. Compared with traditional, centralised 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. This capacity comes from roughly 77,000 turbines installed across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Turbines used in these applications can range from a few hundred watts to several megawatts.

Credit - Vestas
Credit – Vestas

Source: US Energy Department

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