By Anca Gagiuc
The U.S. Department of Energy has published three wind energy market reports, showcasing that an increased number in installations across the country is directly proportional with the falling wind energy prices. The reports, prepared by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, cover three market sectors: land-based utility scale, distributed and offshore wind.
This past year features larger, more powerful wind turbines and lower technology costs and wind power prices for on-land and offshore applications, as well as U.S. distributed wind capacity crossing the 1 gigawatt threshold.
2017 Wind Technologies Market Report
The U.S. wind industry grew by more than 7 gigawatts in capacity last year, bringing the total utility-scale wind capacity to nearly 89 gigawatts. Of the 41 state which operate utility-scale wind projects, Texas leads the nation with more than 22 gigawatts, followed by Oklahoma, Iowa, California and Kansas, which have more than 5,000 megawatts. Another 13 states have more than 1,000 megawatts.
Last year, wind energy contributed 6.3 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, more than 10 percent of total generation in 14 states and more than 30 percent in four of those states—Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Wind plant performance has seen a big boost—wind projects built in the past few years have seen capacity factors increase by 79 percent compared to projects installed from 1998 to 2001, partly thanks to bigger turbines with longer blades. On top of this, the average installed cost of wind projects in 2017 was $1,611 per kilowatt, down 33 percent from the peak of 2009-2010. In addition, the U.S. wind industry supported more than 105,000 jobs and saw $11 billion invested in new wind farms in 2017.
2017 Distributed Wind Market Report
U.S. wind turbines in distributed applications reached a cumulative installed capacity of 1,076 megawatts. Specifically, this capacity comes from roughly 81,000 turbines installed across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. In 2017, Iowa, Ohio and California led the nation in new distributed wind capacity installed as a result of large-scale turbines brought online by commercial and industrial facilities and electricity distribution utilities.
About 35 percent of distributed wind projects installed in 2017 were at homes, and 25 percent were agricultural installations. Between 2015 and 2017, U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers accounted for more than $226 million in export sales.
2017 Offshore Wind Technologies Market Update
The U.S. offshore wind industry has advanced with commercial-scale projects selected in Massachusetts (800 megawatts), Rhode Island (400 megawatts) and Connecticut (200 megawatts). New York, New Jersey and Maryland also have offshore wind projects in the development pipeline.
The U.S. offshore wind project pipeline has reached a total of more than 25 gigawatts across 13 states, including the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm commissioned in 2016. Newer offshore wind turbines are being developed with 10-12 megawatts of capacity—compared to an average capacity of 2.3 megawatts for land-based turbines and 5.3 megawatts for offshore wind turbines installed in 2017.
About 60 percent of the U.S. offshore wind resource lies in deep waters. Currently, floating offshore wind projects have been proposed off the coasts of Maine, California and Hawaii.