Wind Energy Continues Rapid Growth

October 18, 2017

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Offshore wind turbines in heavy seas.
Heavy seas engulf the Block Island Wind Farm—the first U.S. offshore wind farm.
Dennis Schroeder / NREL 40449

America’s wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts (MW) of capacity and supported more than 101,000 jobs in 2016, according to three wind market reports released by the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO). These reports cover the offshore, land-based utility-scale, and distributed wind market sectors.

Improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies have driven wind additions and yielded low power sale prices for utility, corporate, and other purchasers. In 2016, wind supplied about 6 percent of U.S. electricity, and 14 states now get more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind.

According to the 2016 Offshore Wind Technologies Market Report, the U.S. offshore wind project development pipeline includes more than 20 projects totaling 24,135 megawatts (MW) of potential installed capacity. Most of the near-term activity is concentrated off the Northeast coast, but projects are proposed in the Southeast Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. Proposed floating offshore wind projects total 1,993 MW of announced capacity.

The report also found that news of declining European offshore wind project costs spurred confidence in the domestic U.S. offshore wind market. Several states—including Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland—have enacted new policy or bolstered existing policies. 

The 2016 Wind Technologies Market Report found utility-scale wind installations stand at more than 82 gigawatts, with Texas leading the nation with 20 gigawatts of wind capacity. Iowa and South Dakota produced more than 30% of their electricity through wind, and 12 other states exceeded 10%.

U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers accounted for more than $240 million in small wind turbine export sales, according to the 2016 Distributed Wind Market Report. The report also indicates that roughly 77,000 turbines are installed across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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