The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has released its 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report today, highlighting nine emerging trends in the U.S. wind energy market. This includes record job growth and wind energy generation, as well as the establishment of the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.
In its report, AWEA notes that 2015 was one of the “most successful years ever for U.S. wind power,” especially in terms of generating capacity. Wind power was the top new power capacity source in 2015, representing 41% of all new electric power to come online last year. All told, the U.S. saw 8,598 MW of new wind capacity come online in 2015 – a 77% increase over 2014.
The U.S. wind industry also has wide-ranging health benefits, says AWEA, as wind projects helped avoid an estimated 132 million metric tons of carbon dioxide during 2015 alone. That’s the equivalent of eliminating 28 million cars from the road. Wind power also reduced sulfur dioxide output by 176,000 tons and nitrogen oxide by 106,000 tons, creating an estimated $7.3 billion in public health benefits last year.
Several states also set wind generation records in 2015, with Iowa generating 31% of its electricity from wind alone. Wind power provided 25% of the electricity for South Dakota, and Texas created 10% of its electricity from wind power for the first time. All told, a dozen states generated at least 10% of their electricity from wind power.
This increased generation has brought new customers to the wind industry, as Fortune 500 companies, major cities and universities purchased 52% of the megawatts contracted through power purchase agreements. The report cites companies such as General Motors and Google, as well as cities such as Washington, D.C., as major buyers of wind energy in 2015.
AWEA also highlights how wind energy benefits low-income rural communities, noting that 99.9% of wind projects are located in these areas. The wind industry paid out $222 million in lease payments to landowners in these areas and has invested an estimated $101 billion in low-income rural communities.
On the topic of offshore wind, the AWEA report celebrates the country’s first offshore project, Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm, located off the Rhode Island coast. Construction began in late 2015, and it is expected to be operational by the end of this year. Another 13 offshore wind projects in 10 states are also in different stages of development.
Wind energy has provided an economic boost nationwide, according to AWEA, with wind projects or related manufacturing facilities in all 50 states and over 70% of U.S. congressional districts. The wind industry invested an estimated $14.7 billion in new wind projects last year alone.
To cap this all off, AWEA notes that the U.S. was the world’s top wind energy producer in 2015, generating even more wind energy than China and Germany. In 2015 alone, the U.S. wind industry generated a record 190.0 million MWh, enough electricity to provide power to 17.5 million American homes.
You can read AWEA’s full 2015 U.S. Wind Market Report here.