Record Year for US Wind Energy

January 30, 2019

Image: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Image: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

American utilities signed contracts for 4,304 megawatts (MW) of wind power in 2018 that, when combined with non-utility purchases, reached the highest level on record for overall Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) activity with 8,507 MW in 2018.

In total, the industry commissioned 7,588 MW of wind power capacity in 2018. There are now 96,488 MW of cumulative installed wind capacity in the United States, with more than 56,800 wind turbines operating across 41 states.

According to a new report released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Fortune 500 brands and a range of other non-utility entities, including cities and universities, are catalyzing America’s growing demand for renewable energy by purchasing a record amount of wind power in 2018.

Consumer demand combined with policy stability and low, stable prices helped wind power capacity installations rise to the third strongest quarter in the industry’s history.
 
AWEA’s U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2018 Market Report reveals that non-utility customers like AT&T, Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Shell Energy purchased a record 4,203 megawatts of wind power capacity in 2018 through long-term contracts, or PPA.

Contracted wind capacity from non-utility customers in 2018 surged 66 percent higher than the previous high-water mark in 2015. Data from the Business Renewables Center confirms that wind provides more energy to corporate brands than any other renewable source.

As with land-based wind farms, momentum is accelerating for the U.S. offshore wind market. Major energy businesses like Equinor, Orsted and Shell are locked in fierce competition to be the first to harness American offshore wind at scale.

Strong support from the Trump Administration and coastal states, including New York’s nation-leading 9 GW offshore wind target, has sparked investor confidence and sets the stage for a great offshore energy boom.

In December 2018, winning bids for three Massachusetts lease areas generated a combined $405 million in federal revenue, smashing the previous record bid of $43 million for a New York lease area.

In total, the industry commissioned 7,588 MW of wind power capacity in 2018. There are now 96,488 MW of cumulative installed wind capacity in the United States, with more than 56,800 wind turbines operating across 41 states.

With a robust pipeline of new wind farms currently under construction or in advanced development, wind power’s strong 2018 is continuing this year.

Projects totaling 2,125 MW started construction and a further 3,661 MW entered the advanced development phase in the quarter. There are now 35,095 MW of wind power capacity either under construction, 16,521 MW, or in advanced development, 18,574 MW, a 22 percent year-over-year increase in the development pipeline.



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