More than 100 gigawatts of wind farms are currently operating across the U.S., as per the most recent report of the American Wind Energy Association. Combined, the generating capacity of these facilities can power 32 million American households, or enough to cover the needs of California and New Jersey combined.
The modern U.S. wind industry took flight in California in the 1980s and, during the first three decades, its performance was quite slow, according to the report. By 2008, the industry had only 25 gigawatts of installed wind power. The last downturn proved to be a catalyst for the industry, which picked up speed shortly after. Moreover, throughout the last four decades, the wind market created 114,000 jobs, 500 factories and $1 billion each year in lease payments to landowners and taxes. In addition, technology advancements have cut the cost of wind energy by 69 percent in the last decade, which in turn affected the overall electricity cost for households and businesses.
By the numbers
The 100,125 megawatts currently operating in the U.S. are created by more than 57,700 wind turbines across 41 states and two U.S. territories, according to the AWEA report. Of these, nearly 2GW was installed in the third quarter of 2019, while throughout the first nine months of 2019, the industry has commissioned nearly 4GW, which is a 123 percent increase over the first three quarters of last year. Since 2010 onward, the largest generating capacity was delivered in the fourth quarter of each year.
The U.S. wind project pipeline has increased 22 percent year-over-year through the third quarter of 2019 to more than 46 gigawatts underway, of which nearly 23 gigawatts are under construction and more than 23 gigawatts are in advanced development. Of these, nearly 4GW started construction and more than 6GW entered advanced development during the third quarter, marking the highest volume of new announcements on record. The number of states with more than 1,000 megawatts under construction or advanced development has risen to 19, with Texas hosting 19 percent of the total development pipeline, followed by Wyoming (11 percent), Oklahoma (7 percent), Iowa (6 percent) and Virginia (6 percent). Some 44 percent of capacity in the pipeline has a power purchase agreement in place, while 28 percent is utility-owned, and 6 percent has a hedge contract.
Wind power buyers & technology
By September, project developers announced more than 6GW of new PPAs, 1,379 megawatts of which were signed in the third quarter. The largest share was acquired by corporate customers (888 megawatts) and utilities signed contracts for 311 megawatts of wind capacity. Utility providers such as Dominion Energy, American Electric Power and DTE Energy announced plans to add more than 4GW under direct ownership.
The turbine technology continued to advance, with 22 percent of turbines installed year-to-date rated between 3.4 megawatts to 3.6 megawatts. Moreover, GE Renewable Energy turbines represent 41 percent of new capacity installations in 2019 by September, while Vestas accounts for 32 percent and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy follows with 27 percent.
On a state level, Texas leads the nation in installed capacity with more than 27 gigawatts of wind power, Iowa follows with nearly 10GW, followed by Oklahoma (8GW) and Kansas (more than 6GW). California rounds up the top five with nearly 6 GW of installed wind capacity.
Offshore wind, although still in its early stages, is gaining strength: New York selected 1,696 megawatts from two projects to reach its goal of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, while Massachusetts recently selected its second procurement that is expected to fulfill the second half of the Legislature’s 2016 authorization of 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power.