US Wind Energy Tops New Electric Capacity In 2015

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The US wind energy industry installed more electric generating capacity in 2015 than any other electricity source.

The news comes via the American Wind Energy Association, the country’s wind energy trade body, which revealed that the US installed 8.6 GW of new wind energy capacity in 2015, accounting for 35% of all new generating capacity, surpassing the 7.3 GW worth of new solar PV installed and the 6 GW installed by natural gas. The figures themselves come by way of the 2016 Factbook published by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Bloomberg New Energy and Finance (BNEF).

“Wind’s growth is being propelled by cost reductions of two-thirds over the last six years, which now makes wind the lowest-cost source of new generation,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), at the annual winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), in the Renaissance Hotel, Washington, DC.

“It’s one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways we can reduce US carbon emissions, and the low-cost solution for power sector reductions. Utilities and other purchasers are turning to wind energy also because it provides stably-priced energy with no fuel price risk, and protects consumers by creating a more diverse energy portfolio.”

The AWEA also believes that the wind energy industry in the US is going to continue its trend of strong growth in 2016, with 9.4 GW currently under construction and an additional 4.9 GW in advanced stages of development. This growth will also be boosted by the renewal of the US Production Tax Credit, which was renewed by Congress late 2015.

“With long-term policy certainty in place, wind power is ready to keep this American success story going,” said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy and current AWEA Board Chair. “Further investments in our technology will enable utilities to cut costs and pass on the savings to American homeowners and businesses.”

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12 thoughts on “US Wind Energy Tops New Electric Capacity In 2015

  • Only 4.9 GW in the pipeline? That looks like another downswing is coming, in wind’s erratic build cycle.

    • There are probably more on the way for 2016, they’re just not in the works yet.

      • I know of 550 MW in Iowa that they’re not accounting for.

    • Probably due to the fact that the PTC was only renewed late in 2015 – projects are yet to move through.

    • It’s not 4.9 in the pipeline: it’s 9.4 under construction plus 4.9 in advanced planning = 14.3 GW in the pipeline.

  • While solar energy seems to get more attention here, the fact is wind power is the dominant, lowest cost renewable energy source. We now have 74 GW of wind compared to 29 GW of solar. More importantly, wind power produced 170,000 GWh compared to solar producing 33,000 GWh. Several windy central states average nearly double the capacity factor of solar. Along with expanding geothermal, we need both solar and wind but wind energy will continue to be our best option.

    • The same is probably true of the UK. In the UK the installed capacities of wind and solar are fairly similar, however due to wind having a CF of about 34% and solar about 11%, wind generates much more.

      In the UK it’s also the case that wind better matches seasonal demand.

      • UK announced to have 10GW installed solar PV as of today…

        • It was announced it hit 10GW on Monday, so with the massive buildout ahead of RO changes at the end of March, it is probably slightly above that. For example, I personally know of about a further 20MW added so far this week.

          This compares with about 13.6GW of operational wind across onshore and offshore.

    • Room for both! And since they peak at different times of day, in most of the US, they play very well together.

      • The biggest issue for wind is that it significantly diminishes in the summer months making solar an even better play date.

    • Likely because while wind has been gaining since the 90’s, half of all solar was installed in the last 1.5 years.

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