2020 Sets Record for Wind Generation, DOE Report Shows

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Three new reports from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) show record growth in land-based wind energy, significant expansion of the pipeline for offshore wind projects, and continued decline in the cost of wind energy generation.

This lays the groundwork for significant future gains as the Biden administration pursues rapid acceleration of renewable energy deployment to reach its goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035.

“These reports contain such terrific news: the U.S. installed a record-breaking amount of land-based wind energy last year. They underscore both the progress made and the capacity for much more affordable wind power to come – all necessary to reach President Biden’s goal of a decarbonized electricity sector by 2035,” says Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “At DOE, we will double down on efforts to deploy more wind energy around the country as we also pursue technologies to make turbines even cheaper and more efficient.”

More wind energy was installed in 2020 than any other energy source, accounting for 42% of new U.S. capacity. The U.S. wind industry supports 116,800 jobs.        

The 2021 edition of the Land-Based Wind Market Report, prepared by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, detailed a record 16,836 MW of new utility-scale land-based wind power capacity added in 2020 – representing $24.6 billion of investment in new wind power projects. Other findings show that wind energy provided more than 10% of total in-state electricity generation in 16 states. Most notably, wind power provided 57% of Iowa’s in-state electricity generation, while wind provided more than 30% of electricity in Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and North Dakota.

New utility-scale land-based wind turbines were installed in 25 states in 2020. Texas installed the most capacity with 4,137 MW. Other leading states include Iowa, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Illinois and Missouri – all of which added more than 1,000 MW of capacity in 2020.

Wind turbines continue to grow in size and power, leading to more energy produced at lower costs. The average nameplate capacity of newly installed wind turbines grew 8% from 2019 to 2.75 MW. Wind turbine prices have steeply declined from levels seen a decade ago, from $1,800 per kW in 2008 to $770-$850 per kW now.

The health and climate benefits of wind energy installed in 2020 were valued at $76 per MWh, far greater than the cost of wind energy.

The 2021 edition of the Offshore Wind Market Report, prepared by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, found that the pipeline for U.S. offshore wind energy projects grew to 35,324 MW, a 24% increase over the previous year.

The Bureau of Ocean Management created five new wind energy areas in the New York Bight with a total of 9,800 MW of capacity, representing most of the 2020-2021 growth of the U.S. pipeline. The Block Island Wind Farm (30 MW) off the coast of Rhode Island and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot (12 MW) are the first two projects operating off U.S. coasts. Massachusetts’ Vineyard Wind I became the first approved commercial-scale offshore wind energy project in the U.S. Massachusetts, North Carolina and Virginia all increased offshore wind procurement targets in 2020 and early 2021. In total, state goals grew by 15,600 MW, from about 24,000 MW by 2035 in 2019 to almost 40,000 MW by 2040.

The 2021 edition of the Distributed Wind Market Report, prepared by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, noted that 11 states added a total of 14.7 MW of capacity, 1,493 turbines and $41 million for new investment in distributed wind installations in 2020.

Cumulative U.S. distributed wind capacity stands at 1,055 MW from more than 87,000 wind turbines across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. Agricultural and residential customers accounted for the largest percentage of distributed wind projects installed in 2020 (36% and 24%, respectively), while utility and industrial customers accounted for the largest share of distributed wind capacity installed (58% and 37%, respectively).

Small wind retrofits – new turbines installed on existing towers and foundations – have become more common, accounting for 80% of small wind capacity installed in 2020.

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Charles Echo
Charles Echo
21 days ago

China leads the world in developing nuclear at the present. The United States is dead last. It has taken the United States fifteen years to build the latest nuclear generating plant of size, in Georgia. Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 will be the first new nuclear units built in the United States, hundreds of new jobs. Harvest Ridge wind facility in Illinois has taken nearly twelve years to build, represented to power 68,000 homes at full capacity. During the recent heat wave in Central Illinois with little wind, the turbines were either at a standstill, or turning at very… Read more »