Strong Growth Continues for U.S. Wind Power
Annual reports analyzing the wind energy industry show continued rapid growth.
Annual reports analyzing the wind energy industry recently released by the Energy Department (DOE) show continued rapid growth in wind power installations in 2015, demonstrating market resilience and underscoring the vitality of the U.S. wind energy market on a global scale. The U.S. wind power market remained strong in 2015 thanks to continued low prices, more efficient wind turbines, and fast-growing demand nationwide.
“Sustained low wind energy prices and solid growth in installations helped make 2015 one of the best years for our nation’s renewable energy market,” said David Friedman, acting assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. “These reports show that with more American homes and businesses powered by wind energy than ever before, our nation’s clean energy future is bright.”
According to the “2015 Wind Technologies Market Report” released by the DOE and its Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the U.S. ranks second in the world for wind power capacity and remains first in the world for electricity generated from wind power. Total installed wind power capacity from turbines rated at more than 100 KW in the U.S. grew at a rate of 12% in 2015 and stands at nearly 74 GW, meeting an estimated 5.6% of U.S. end-use electricity demand in an average year. The nearly 8.6 GW of capacity installed during 2015—representing more new deployment than any other electricity source—is a 77% increase over total installations in 2014. More than 4,300 utility-scale wind turbines were installed across 64 projects in 20 states in 2015, bringing the total fleet to more than 48,500 operating utility-scale wind turbines in 40 states and Puerto Rico.
The report also found that wind energy continues to be sold at attractive prices through power purchase agreements, making this renewable energy source fully cost-competitive with traditional power sources in many parts of the U.S. Newer, larger and more robust wind turbines are enabling significantly greater wind project productivity among new wind projects across the country. The U.S. wind industry reportedly has positively impacted the American workforce by currently supporting 88,000 jobs related to development, siting, manufacturing, transportation, and other industries—an increase of 15,000 jobs in 2015.
Compared with traditional, centralized power plants, 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 more than 934 MW—enough to power more than 142,000 average American homes—according to the “2015 Distributed Wind Market Report,” also recently released by the DOE and its Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This capacity comes from roughly 75,000 turbines installed across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Turbines used in these applications can range in size from a few hundred watts to several megawatts, and can help power remote, off-grid homes and farms, as well as local schools and manufacturing facilities.
In 2015, U.S. manufacturers dominated domestic sales of small wind turbines (up through 100 KW) and doubled exports to 21.5 MW. Between 2012 and 2015, U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers accounted for more than $310 million in small wind turbine export sales.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, American wind energy more than doubled from about 95 million MW hours generated in 2010 to more than 190 million MW hours in 2015. Hydropower has historically been the largest renewable electricity source, but capacity in wind, solar and other non-hydro renewable sources has grown so much in recent years that non-hydro renewable electricity generation exceeded hydropower generation for the second straight year in 2015.
For more information, visit www.energy.gov.