Wind energy in the United States grew at a record pace in 2020, representing the largest source of new additions to the U.S. electric-generating capacity. Three market reports released by the U.S. Department of Energy detail trends in wind development, technology, cost, and performance through the end of 2020 (and in offshore wind through May 2021).
These reports present a unique combination of publicly available, confidential, and proprietary data. They provide unbiased, independent, public reporting of the current state of the industry and provide insight into multi-year trends.
A record 16,836 megawatts (MW) of U.S. wind capacity was installed in 2020, bringing the cumulative total to 121,955 MW. Wind power installations outpaced those in solar power for the first time in several years and represented $24.6 billion of investment. Wind provides more than 10% of electricity in 16 states, and over 30% in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
Improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies, along with the Production Tax Credit, have driven wind energy capacity additions, yielding low-priced wind energy. Wind turbines continued to grow in size and power, with the average nameplate capacity of newly installed wind turbines at 2.75 MW—up 8% from 2019 and 284% since 1998−1999. The combined health, climate, and grid-system benefits of wind are almost 3 times its levelized cost of energy.
Download the Land-Based Wind Market Report: 2021 Edition.
Driven by falling offshore wind prices, federal action, and state-level commitments, the U.S. offshore wind pipeline grew 24% over the previous year, with 35,324 MW now in various stages of development. With the installation of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Pilot project, this now includes two projects totaling 42 MW in operation. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management created five new Wind Energy Areas in the New York Bight with a total 9,800 MW of capacity, representing a large portion of the 2020/2021 pipeline growth. Massachusetts' Vineyard Wind I became the first approved commercial-scale offshore wind energy project in the United States. There are 15 projects in the U.S. offshore pipeline that have reached the permitting phase, and eight states have set offshore wind energy procurement goals totaling 39,298 MW by 2040.
Global offshore wind installations in 2020 totaled 5,519 MW. Turbine sizes continued to grow, with average rotor diameters exceeding 150 meters and turbine capacities more than 7.5 MW. New trends also emerged in 2020, including increased interest in using offshore wind to produce clean hydrogen. The global pipeline for floating offshore wind energy more than tripled in 2020 to 26,529 MW.
Download the Offshore Wind Market Report: 2021 Edition.
Find out how offshore wind can produce hydrogen, in turn helping to decarbonize America’s energy future.
Trends leading the offshore wind market into a decade of unprecedented growth.
The U.S. distributed wind sector—which includes power from wind turbines installed near where the power will be used—added 14.7 MW of new distributed wind energy capacity with 1,493 new wind turbines installed across 11 states. This capacity represents $41 million in investment and brings the total installed capacity to 1,055 MW from more than 87,000 wind turbines across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. U.S.-based manufacturers of small wind turbines (100 kW or less) accounted for 71% of the domestic, small wind sales capacity in 2020. Small wind turbine retrofits—new turbines installed on existing towers and foundations—have become more common, accounting for 80% of small wind capacity additions in 2020.
Download the Distributed Wind Market Report: 2021 Edition.
Learn about key facts related to wind turbines used in distributed applications.
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