Publications

- September 1, 2019: Vol. 6, Number 8

Wind farms on spin cycle: More than 200 projects are under way across 33 states

by Mike Consol

U.S. wind farm development activity rose to a new high point in the second quarter of 2019, according to data released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Strong consumer demand from Fortune 500 businesses and utilities as well as calls from multiple states for offshore projects added to wind power’s growing development pipeline. At the same time, wind turbine manufacturers saw an increasing number of factory orders for more powerful wind turbines capable of powering almost twice the number of homes as an average wind turbine installed in the past few years.

The U.S. wind energy industry continues to supply a growing share of the American electricity generation while creating new jobs and economic development opportunities.

“American wind power’s record growth continues to accelerate,” says organization CEO Tom Kiernan.

The record 41,801 megawatts (MW) of U.S. wind capacity currently under construction or in advanced stages of development represents a 10 percent increase over the level of activity at this stage of 2018. The wind project pipeline grew 7 percent in the second quarter with 7,290 MW in new construction and advanced development activity announced.

Wind power is expanding rapidly in many regions of the United States. Over 200 wind projects are under way across 33 states, and 15 of those states have over 1,000 MW of wind capacity that will come online in the near term. Texas currently hosts the most activity (9,015 MW), followed by Wyoming (4,831 MW), New Mexico (2,774 MW), Iowa (2,623 MW) and South Dakota (2,183 MW). Notably, half of all U.S. states have enough projects under way to grow their installed wind capacity by 25 percent or more.

Offshore wind also saw significant activity in the second quarter with bold new offshore wind targets legislated in Maryland (1,200 MW), Connecticut (2,000 MW), and New York (9,000 MW). New Jersey granted its first offshore renewable energy certificate for an 1,100 MW project — the largest offshore wind project planned in the United States so far.

The U.S. grid now includes an additional 736 MW of wind power as developers commissioned four new wind farms in the second quarter. This brings total U.S. wind capacity to 97,960 MW, with more than 57,000 wind turbines operating in 41 states and two U.S. territories. American wind farms now produce enough electricity to power more than 30 million average homes and reliably supply more than 20 percent of the electricity in six states.

Businesses and utilities continue to purchase more wind energy to power their operations.

As wind power’s customer base evolves, so too does the technology. Wind turbine manufacturers have introduced new models at a rapid pace over the past few years in pursuit of lowering costs and achieving even stronger performance. As a result, the number of projects selecting wind turbines with a capacity of 3.5 MW or more is growing significantly.

 

Mike Consol (m.consol@irei.com) is editor of Real Assets Adviser. Follow him on Twitter @mikeconsol to read his latest postings.

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