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Wind power has become the 2nd fastest growing electricity source in the US, surpassed only by solar power. According to the latest quarterly report from the American Clean Power Association, the US added 16.9 GW of wind generation in 2020, representing 38% of the total capacity added. In total, solar and wind power projects added 36.1 GW of capacity to US power grids, representing 81% of total growth.
The outlook for US wind power has increased thanks to the tax credit extensions from December 2020, and the 30 GW offshore wind power target from the Biden Administration. Several major players in the industry are already making their moves:
- Chevron Technology Ventures is investing in Ocergy, Inc., along with the Norwegian industrial group Moreld AS. The deal was announced on April 13, and the funding will be used to help Ocergy deploy its floating wind turbine technology at commercial scale.
- General Electric has been selected to provide 500 wind turbines for the North Central Wind Energy Facilities in Oklahoma. The project has a planned capacity of 1,485 MW, making it one of the largest wind farms in the world.
- The Danish developer Ørsted is becoming a major player in the US wind power industry. In March 2021, they started building the 518-MW Helena Energy Center in Texas, a hybrid project with 268 MW of wind capacity and 250 MW of solar capacity.
- On April 12, Ørsted and PSEG announced they had acquired 25% of Ocean Wind, a 1,100-MW offshore wind farm being developed in New Jersey.
According to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration, utility-scale wind turbines produced 338 billion kWh in 2020. For comparison, the total wind generation was 95 billion kWh in 2010, and only 6 billion kWh in 2000.
Offshore Wind Power Potential in the US
The US wind power sector currently has an installed capacity of over 122 GW, but growth has been largely focused on the onshore sector. As of April 2021, the US has only deployed two offshore wind projects that add 42-MW of capacity: the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, and the 12-MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project.
However, the Frontier Group published the Offshore Wind for America report in March 2021, which presents a very positive outlook:
- By developing its offshore wind resources, the US could generate 7.2 trillion kWh per year. This is 89% more electricity than what the country currently uses.
- Most of this potential is found in the Atlantic Coast, which has wind resources that could generate 4.6 trillion kWh per year. The Gulf region is second, with an estimated potential of 1.4 trillion kWh per year.
Although there are only two offshore wind farms operating in the US, there are 34 proposals with a total capacity of 26 GW, and 27 of them are already in the planning and development stages.
Ranking the Top Wind Power States
Texas is by far the top wind power state: with over 31 GW installed, that state has over 25% of the national capacity. In other words, one of every four US wind turbines is installed in Texas. Many of these wind farms are installed in rented land, giving landlords a revenue of over $190 million per year, while generating tax revenue of over $285 million per year.
- According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCO), wind turbines provided 39% of the state’s electricity in March.
- Natural gas was in second place with 30% of the electricity supply, while coal was third with 15%.
The US Energy Information Agency ranked states based on their annual wind power generation, and the following are currently the top 10:
|State||Annual Wind Generation (Billion kWh)|
|7) North Dakota||13.183|
Source: US EIA
In terms of new wind power capacity added for the last year, Texas was also #1 with 4,235 MW, according to the American Clean Power Association. The following four states were Iowa (1,498 MW), Wyoming (1,123 MW), Illinois (1,029 MW) and Missouri (1,028 MW).