The American Wind Energy Association has released its fourth quarter 2014 wind energy industry report, and it was good news for the American wind energy industry in 2014, with more than four times more wind energy coming online than the year previously.
The report, released on Wednesday to members of the media, shows that the American wind energy industry installed 3,597 MW in the fourth quarter of 2014, bringing the years total up to 4,850 MW, and total cumulative capacity up over 65 GW.
Specifically, the fourth quarter saw the installation of 1,789 wind turbines, across 32 projects in 14 different states — Texas installed the most, with 1,118 MW, followed by Oklahoma (648 MW), Iowa (511 MW), Washington (267 MW), and Colorado (261 MW).
“Wind is gaining strength, but as recent history shows, we can do a whole lot more,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “We’re looking forward to working with Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle so that a reasonable, responsible tax policy is in place that allows the wind industry to continue lowering costs and investing billions of dollars in US communities.”
Feeling the Impacts of the PTC Dilemma
The 2014 total was well short of the record 13 GW installed during 2012, with many commentators and analysts pointing to uncertainty over federal policy as the reason for the current shortfall — the renewable energy Production Tax Credit was only extended through 2014 at the end of 2014, and has now expired again.
“It has been US policy for the last 100 years to encourage energy production by giving tax relief to different energy sources,” said Kiernan. “Every other source of electricity in this country has their tax relief. Congress must find a way forward so we don’t lose years of investment and send this promising industry over another cliff.”
According to the AWEA, the PTC encouraged $125 billion worth of investment across America, created 500 US manufacturing facilities, and technological innovations that lowered wind energy’s costs by more than half over the last five years.
“The PTC has helped the US build some of the best infrastructure the country has ever seen,” Kiernan said. “As President Obama mentioned this past week, we’ve been so successful that the US is now number one in the world in wind energy production. US wind farms now provide enough power for the equivalent of 18 million typical American homes.”
The wind industry made the most of the Production Tax Credit rules, which simply required projects to have initiated construction to qualify. As a result, over 12.7 GW of wind energy is currently under construction across 98 projects in 23 states — Texas is once again leading the way with current construction totalling 7,500 MW, followed by New Mexico with 680 MW, Kansas with 670 MW, 548 MW in Iowa, and over 535 MW under construction in North Dakota.
Other Key Takeaways
There were a number of other key takeaways from the report that are worth highlighting.
With the lapse in the Production Tax Credit at the end of 2013, nearly 30,000 “well-paying jobs” were lost, as well as “tens of billions of dollars in private investment.” Wind installations dropped 92% in 2013 amid the uncertainty. Understandably, the industry is hoping the PTC is extended again — hopefully earlier than last year’s extension, which took place two weeks before its extension ran out.
Over 3,300 MW of new wind Power Purchase Agreements were announced during 2014, growing on top of the approximate 8,000 MW of PPA’s signed during 2013.