Wind turbines are soaring to record sizes. The average rotor diameter of turbines installed in 2018 grew to 379 feet, up 141 percent since 1998–1999. | NREL

Brush up on your knowledge of wind! This article is part of the series highlighting the "Top Things You Didn't Know About Energy" series.

10. Human civilizations have harnessed wind power for thousands of years. Early forms of windmills used wind to crush grain or pump water. Now, modern wind turbines use the wind to create electricity. Learn how a wind turbine works.

9. Today’s wind turbines are much more complicated machines than the traditional prairie windmill. A wind turbine has as many as 8,000 different components.

8. Wind turbines are big. Wind turbine blades average almost 200 feet long, and turbine towers average 295 feet tall—about the height of the Statue of Liberty. The average nameplate capacity of turbines is also increasing, meaning they have more powerful generators. The average capacity of utility-scale wind turbines installed in 2020 was 2.75 megawatts (MW), up 8% from the previous year.

7. Higher wind speeds mean more electricity, and wind turbines are getting taller to reach higher heights above ground level where it’s even windier. See the Energy Department’s wind resource maps to find average wind speeds in your state or hometown and learn more about opportunities for taller wind turbines in a report from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

6. Most of the components of wind turbines installed in the United States are manufactured here. There are more than 530 wind-related manufacturing facilities located across 43 states, and the U.S. wind industry currently employs more than 116,000 people.

5. Offshore wind represents a major opportunity to provide power to highly populated coastal cities. There are small projects installed off the coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia, and the first commercial-scale project has been approved for installation off the coast of Massachusetts. See what the Energy Department is doing to develop offshore wind in the United States.

4. There is utility-scale wind power (from turbines over 100 kilowatts) installed in 41 states. There is distributed wind installed in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

3. The United States’ wind power capacity was about 122,000  megawatts at the end of 2020, making it the largest renewable energy source in the United States. In 2020, U.S. wind power capacity additions equaled 17 MW. This growth represented $24.6 billion in investment in new wind power project installations in 2020.

2. Wind energy is affordable. Wind prices for power contracts signed in the last few years and levelized wind prices (the price the utility pays to buy power from a wind farm) are 2–4 cents per kilowatt-hour. 

1. Wind energy provides more than 10% of total electricity generation in 16 states, and more than 30% in Kansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Oklahoma. Overall, wind energy supplied more than 8% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2020.

Learn More

Liz Hartman
Liz Hartman is the Communications Lead for DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office.
more by this author