The wind industry experienced its third strongest year on record in 2019 as project developers added 9,143 MW of wind power capacity to the grid. On the heels of this activity, another 44,000 MW of wind projects – representing over $62 billion in investment – are either under construction or in advanced development. Utilities and businesses also set a new record in 2019, announcing 8,726 MW in new PPAs. And East Coast states continue to drive demand for offshore wind energy with 16 GW in new offshore wind targets pledged in 2019 — more than doubling previous state targets. These findings and the latest industry data are highlighted in the newly released U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2019 Market Report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
“The demand and growth of U.S. wind energy can’t be understated,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “Today, there are nearly 60,000 wind turbines spinning across 41 states powering the equivalent of over 32 million American homes. Demand for wind energy is greater than ever as evidenced by corporations and utilities signing contracts in record numbers. Nearly 200 projects are underway in 33 states from the wind belt in America’s heartland to the booming offshore wind market, where visionary leaders are leveraging the affordable, clean energy that wind provides.”
The fourth quarter of 2019 saw significant growth as developers installed 35 new wind projects totaling 5,476 MW in 16 states. Texas led installations for the quarter with 1,808 MW, followed by Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Illinois. In total, the industry commissioned 9,143 MW of wind power capacity in 2019. There are now 105,583 MW of operating wind capacity in the United States, with more than 56,800 wind turbines operating across 41 states. Texas and Iowa set individual records for annual wind power additions, with Texas adding nearly 4 GW of new wind projects and Iowa adding 1.7 GW. These two states led all others in 2019.
Demand for wind power reached new heights in 2019 as utilities and corporate buyers announced a record 8,726 MW of power purchase agreements. Utilities represented 60% of power purchase activity for the year at a total of 5,266 MW, the highest volume for Utilities on record. The top three purchasers for the year were Northern Indiana Public Service Company, Walmart and AT&T. Corporate buyers accounted for 40% of annual wind energy contracts last year with a total of 3,640 MW of contracts. In the fourth quarter, power purchasers announced 2,077 MW of wind contracts, with six companies signing contracts for the first time including the oil and gas company Baker Hughes, Estee Lauder and McDonald’s.
In the offshore market, East Coast states continued to demonstrate their commitment to offshore wind power. Six states announced 16,300 MW of new offshore wind targets in 2019 alone, more than doubling total state targets to 25,000 MW. The latest announcement came from Governor Murphy of New Jersey increasing the state’s offshore wind target to 7,500 MW by 2035.
States also moved forward with offshore wind project selection. In the fourth quarter, Massachusetts selected the 804 MW Mayflower Wind project, while Connecticut selected the 804 MW Park City Wind project. Further South, New York signed contracts with two projects: Ørsted and Eversource’s 880-MW Sunrise Wind project and Equinor’s 816-MW Empire Wind project. With these announcements, states have selected a total 6,297 MW of offshore wind projects. Offshore wind farms now represent 17% of the overall wind development pipeline.
Swelling demand for wind power has left the near-term pipeline close to record levels. At the end of 2019 there were 191 projects under construction or in advanced development. These projects are spread across 33 states and total more than 44 GW of wind power. In total, these projects represent more than $62 billion in investment and are expected to be able to power more than 15 million American homes once operational.
“We’re entering a new decade with the wind, literally, at our backs,” Kiernan said. “Wind power is driving economic growth and employment across the country, especially in rural areas. More than 114,000 Americans are directly employed by the industry and the industry delivers over $1 billion each year in state and local taxes and land-lease payments. Growth is expected to continue, especially as investors are quickly realizing the growth potential that wind provides, including in the offshore market. We look forward to setting more records in the year ahead.”
News item from AWEA