Wind power emerged from 2019 as the U.S.’ top choice for new power after building 9.1 GW, representing 39% of new utility-scale power additions.
With these additions, operating wind power capacity in the U.S. now stands at over 105 GW. In addition, wind energy is now the largest provider of renewable energy in the country, supplying over 7% of the nation’s electricity in 2019. The newly released Wind Powers America Annual Report 2019 reveals that U.S. wind energy supports a record 120,000 American jobs, 530 domestic factories and $1.6 billion a year in revenue for states and communities that host wind farms.
“U.S. wind power has grown significantly over the past decade, as consumers across the country increasingly turn to wind to provide affordable, reliable and clean electricity for their communities,” says Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
“Years of hard work culminated with wind power becoming America’s largest renewable energy provider in 2019, with a 50-state footprint of job creation and economic development. Wind’s near-record project pipeline indicates this growth will continue for years to come. While we are now working to mitigate the significant disruptions from COVID-19, we know that we will meet these challenges with strong industry momentum,” he adds.
The U.S. wind industry experienced its third strongest year on record in 2019, as project developers invested nearly $14 billion in new wind projects totaling 9,137 MW.
Total operating wind power capacity increased 9.6% to 105,591 MW, with nearly 60,000 wind turbines now operating across 41 states and two territories. This caps off a strong decade of growth that saw the U.S. more than triple its wind power capacity to become the largest renewable power resource on a capacity basis. Wind power represented 30% of utility-scale power plant installations over the past 10 years.
Texas and Iowa led the country in wind power additions, with both states installing individual record amounts of wind power for a single year. South Dakota had the largest percentage growth in 2019, increasing its installed wind capacity by over 50% after installing 506 MW. In total, wind project developers delivered 55 projects in 19 states during 2019.
Having finished the past decade with record growth, the wind industry is poised for continued strong expansion in the coming years. Another 44 GW of capacity is either under construction or in advanced stages of development. Those projects represent $62 billion in investment in the U.S. economy and enough additional power for 15 million American homes, once they’re built.
According to AWEA analysis, COVID-19 is putting an estimated 25 GW of wind projects at risk, representing $35 billion in investment. This includes the potential loss of over $8 billion to rural communities in the form of state and local tax payments and land-lease payments to private landowners, as well as the loss of over 35,000 jobs, including wind turbine technicians, construction workers, and factory workers. Like the benefits of wind development, these losses will be felt most strongly in rural communities. The industry will continue working with Congress and other renewable energy leaders to address the challenges of COVID-19 to ensure projects have the flexibility to continue development.
To read AWEA’s full Wind Powers America Annual Report 2019, click here.
Photo: AWEA’s 2019 top wind facts sheet