A new report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) finds that total installed wind power capacity in the U.S. grew at a rate of 8% in 2014 and now stands at nearly 66 GW, currently ranking second in the world and meets nearly 5% of end-use electricity demand in an average year.Â
According to the 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report, the DOE finds that U.S. wind energy prices are at an all-time low and are competitive with wholesale power prices and traditional power sources across many areas of the U.S.
The report also notes the following:
- After hitting a low of roughly $750/kW from 2000 to 2002, average turbine prices increased to more than $1,500/kW by the end of 2008. Wind turbine prices have since dropped substantially, despite increases in hub heights and especially rotor diameters. Recently announced transactions feature pricing in the $850 kW – $1,250/kW range. These price reductions, coupled with improved turbine technology, have exerted downward pressure on project costs and wind power prices.
- Utility-scale turbines with larger rotors designed for lower wind speeds have been increasingly deployed across the country in 2014. The findings also suggest that the success of the U.S. wind industry has had a ripple effect on the American economy, supporting 73,000 jobs related to development, siting, manufacturing, transportation and other industries – an increase of 22,500 jobs from 2013 to 2014.
- Prices for wind power purchase agreements (PPA) have reached all-time lows. After topping out at nearly $70/MWh for PPAs executed in 2009, the national average levelized price of wind PPAs that were signed in 2014 fell to around $23.5/MWh nationwide – a new low, but admittedly the price is focused on a sample of projects that largely hail from the lowest-priced Interior region of the U.S.
The new low average price level is notable, explains the DOE, given that installed project costs have not similarly broken through previous lows and that wind projects have, in recent years, been sited in somewhat lower-quality resource areas.