The United States continues to lead the world in wind energy production according to recently released data by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Over 31% of Iowa’s in-state electricity generation came from wind last year – marking another major milestone. This is the first time wind has supplied a state with more than 30% of its annual electricity. Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota all generated more than 20% of their electricity from wind in 2015.
“The U.S. is blessed with world-class wind resources,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “We’re tapping into this homegrown resource more than ever thanks to American innovation and U.S. workers building some of the most productive wind turbines in the world. Now more than ever, low-cost, stably-priced, zero-emission wind energy is keeping our air clean and cutting costs for consumers. American wind power is well on its way to supplying 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030.”
“We are proud of Iowa’s leadership in wind energy,” added Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who also serves as Chairman of the Governor’s Wind and Solar Energy Coalition. “We’ve seen exponential growth in wind energy and the data released today reinforces what we’ve been seeing in every corner of our state. With potential to jump above 40% in the next five years, we are committed to building an even greener Iowa future that will provide our Iowa families with cleaner, renewable energy, and job opportunities.”
Wind produced over 190 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in the U.S. last year, enough electricity for about 17.5 million typical U.S. homes. China is close behind the U.S. at 185.1 million MWh and followed by third-place Germany at 84.6 MWh. Although China has nearly double the installed wind-power capacity as the U.S., strong wind resources and production-based U.S. policy have helped build some of the most productive wind farms in the world. Upgraded transmission infrastructure in the U.S. also helps relieve congestion and bring more low-cost wind energy to the most densely populated parts of the country.
Wind energy supplied 4.7% of the total electricity generated in the U.S. in 2015, enough electricity to supply the equivalent of all electricity demand in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Solar energy, including utility-scale and distributed solar, generated 0.94% of all U.S. electricity in 2015.
Texas, Maine, and Vermont for the first time generated 10% or more of their electricity from wind, joining Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Minnesota, Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon in the 10% and up club. In total, eight states generated 15% or more of their electricity supply from wind in 2015, and 20 states generated more than 5% of their electricity from wind.
As the U.S. increasingly has generated more of its electricity from renewable energy, electricity rates across the U.S. have remained 5.5% lower than they were in 2009 according to the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s recently released fourth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.
U.S. power sector emissions fell to their lowest annual level since 1995 last year according to the Factbook, which also reported that the U.S. is home to “one of the most attractive markets in the world for companies whose operations entail significant energy-related costs. At 7.1 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the retail price of electricity for the industrial sector in the U.S. is lower than that in other major economies, such as Germany, China, and India.”
“As states plan for low-cost solutions to cut carbon emissions, real-world evidence shows wind energy helps to reliably keep the lights on for American homes and businesses throughout the country,” said Kiernan.
Across the U.S., wind power generated more electricity in 2015 than the combined generation from all sources in Georgia and Colorado. Wind power supports 73,000 well-paying jobs across all 50 states. Nearly 20,000 American workers at over 500 factories across 43 states now build wind turbine parts and materials. The DOE’s Wind Vision report says growing wind energy to supply 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030 could support 380,000 jobs.
American wind power’s high productivity illustrates the success of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC). The PTC has attracted more than $128 billion in private investment to the U.S. economy over the last 10 years. Late last year a bipartisan vote by Congress secured a multi-year extension of the PTC, supplying long-term certainty for the U.S. wind energy industry.
Building new transmission infrastructure is expected to help many states, particularly in the Southeast, more cost-effectively comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever rule to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants.
Completed transmission projects in other parts of the U.S. have demonstrated the benefits of connecting areas with abundant wind resources to more highly populated parts of the country. For example, the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) lines in Texas have allowed the state to double its use of low-cost wind energy. ERCOT, the main grid operator in Texas, has regularly set wind-generation records on its system as a result of CREZ.
Other regions are following Texas’s lead. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) is developing a similar set of transmission lines, called the Multi-Value Projects, which will potentially integrate nearly 15 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity. Those projects are expected to yield a benefit-to-cost ratio of between 2.6 and 3.9 to 1. SPP’s Priority Projects and Balanced Portfolio Projects, which have a similarly high benefit-to-cost ratio, were made possible by a Highway/Byway transmission cost allocation policy.
The U.S. now has nearly 75 GW of installed wind power capacity. Last year, wind installed 8.6 GW of new electric generating capacity, making it the largest source of new capacity ahead of solar (7.3 GW) and natural gas (6 GW). An additional 9.4 GW of wind power was under construction at the start of 2016, with another 4.9 GW in advanced stages of development.
Data used from the EIA can be found here www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly in tables 1.1 and 1.1A.
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