The US Wind Industry is Booming
The wind industry is blowing past previous milestones thanks to tailwinds that see the renewable energy source surpassing other energy sources. That's the word in the recent reports by the US Department of Energy, showing record growth in onshore and offshore wind power, a booming pipeline for offshore wind, and declines in the cost of wind energy. To back it up, on Monday, as Climate Week kicked off, New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Kathy Hochul announced "two major green energy infrastructure projects to power New York City with wind, solar, and hydropower projects from upstate New York and Canada."
"...wind energy installations in 2020 topped any other energy source, accounting for 42% of new US energy capacity."
These are gusty days for the power market, and the Biden Administration is touting these advances as signs that it can hit the target of 100% clean electricity within the next 14 years. In a statement, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said:
These reports contain such terrific news: the US 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.
"In states like Iowa, wind power provided over half of the state's electricity generation ... Wind power in almost every case is cheaper than any other source of energy generation..."
In all, wind energy installations in 2020 topped any other energy source, accounting for 42% of new US energy capacity. To date, according to the reports, this means 116,800 jobs for people in the industry. The Land-Based Wind Market Report indicates that around 16.8 gigawatts (GW) of new utility-scale land-based wind capacity came online in 2020. It's a figure that equals a whopping $24.6 billion in new investments into wind power projects.
In states like Iowa, wind power provided over half of the state's electricity generation; in Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and North Dakota, wind accounted for more than 30% of energy production. Kansas and North Dakota, however, are two states that remain heavily dependent on coal power for much of the rest of their electricity supply.
"To date, the US trails most other developed countries also able to build out offshore wind development."
CNBC: The Rise Of Wind Power In The US, March 10, 2021.
Installations are coming up in large part because costs are coming down. Wind power in almost every case is cheaper than any other source of energy generation (the same is true for solar). At the same time, the report indicated that health and climate benefits amounted to $76 per megawatt-hour, which is far greater than the cost of wind energy.
At the same time onshore wind power is having its moment, the Biden Administration has set the stage for the development of a new offshore wind industry. To date, the US trails most other developed countries also able to build out offshore wind development. For instance, China, Germany, and the United Kingdom account for the bulk of offshore wind installation now, representing about 25 of the total 33 GW of offshore wind projects developed since 2002.
But the US has a lot of room to grow. There's about 35 GW of planned projects underway along the US coastline -- with 9.8 GW planned for the region off the New York coast and set up by the Bureau of Ocean Management. State goals for offshore wind are expected to reach 40 GW by 2040.
Global Wind Energy Council: Global wind power growth must triple over next decade to achieve Net Zero, April 22, 2021.