Washington, D.C. — According to the 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in August, the United States was the fastest-growing wind power market in the world in 2012. More than 13,100 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity were connected to the U.S. grid in 2012, a new record for annual domestic wind power additions.
Wind power represented the largest source of U.S. electric-generating capacity additions in 2012 (43% of the total) and $25 billion in new investments. At the end of the year, wind power contributed more than 12% of total electricity generation in nine states (with three of these states above 20%) and could meet roughly 4.4% of total U.S. electricity demand.
Other key findings from DOE's report include:
- A sizable percentage of the equipment used in U.S. wind power projects is being sourced domestically: in 2012, imports of selected turbine components fell below 30%. Exports of wind-powered generating sets from the United States have also increased, rising from $16 million in 2007 to $388 million in 2012.
- Since 1998–1999, the average nameplate capacity of wind turbines installed in the United States has increased by 170% (to 1.94 MW in 2012), the average turbine hub height has increased by 50% (to 84 meters), and the average rotor diameter has increased by 96% (to 94 meters).
- Turbine prices have fallen 20% to 35% from their highs back in 2008, while total installed project costs have dropped by almost $300/kilowatt (kW), on average, since 2010.
- Among a sample of wind power projects with power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed in 2011 and 2012, the capacity-weighted national average levelized price was $40/megawatt-hour (MWh), down steeply from $70/MWh for projects with PPAs signed in 2009.
- As the federal tax incentives for wind were not extended until January 2013, it will take time to recharge the project pipeline. Consequently, 2013 is expected to be a slow year for new capacity additions, lowering not only domestic but global growth forecasts. However, 2014 is expected to be a strong year, as developers commission projects that began construction in 2013. (Projects that start physical work of a significant nature or incur 5% of project costs by December 31, 2013, are eligible for the production tax credit or investment tax credit.) Projections for 2015 and beyond are much less certain. Despite the improved cost, performance, and price of wind energy and the prospect for fossil plant retirement, policy uncertainty—in concert with continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand growth, and limited near-term demand from state renewables portfolio standards—may put a damper on medium-term growth.
The annual Wind Technologies Market Report is funded by the DOE Wind and Water Power Technologies Office and prepared by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Visit the Wind Program's Information Resources page to download the 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report, a summary presentation of the report, and an underlying data spreadsheet. Related info-graphics, blogs, video, and a map are available on Energy.gov's Wind Report page. For an opportunity to ask industry experts about the status of the wind industry and the policies and technologies that affect its growth, join the Google+ Hangout on August 8th at 3 p.m.