The United States’ wind industry has continued its steady growth in the third quarter of 2016, installing 895 MW of new capacity, bringing year-to-date installations up to just over 1.7 GW.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) published its US Wind Industry Third Quarter 2016 Market Report this week, revealing that new capacity installations in the third quarter reached 895 MW. This brings the country’s cumulative wind energy capacity up to nearly 76 GW. This follows the steady growth seen already this year, with 520 MW of new capacity added in the first quarter, followed by 310 MW in the second quarter.
US Wind Power Capacity Installations, by Quarter
As can be seen in the graph above, the US wind industry is used to quiet installation figures through the first three quarters of a year, though in recent years the driving factor behind the fourth quarter spikes has been the perceived need to finish construction before the end of the year to qualify for government tax credits.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype put forth by the American Wind Energy Association. Its press release accompanying this quarter’s Market Report is all about the current pipeline of projects under construction or in advanced development, which currently sits at over 20 GW. It’s an impressive number, but looking back over the year shows that that number has only grown marginally — it sat at 15 GW in the first quarter, and 18 GW in the second quarter, and as can be seen, there appears to be more projects approved than completed.
More specifically, the third quarter’s 20 GW pipeline is made up of 13.5 GW under construction and 6.7 GW in advanced development. This compares to 12.4 GW under construction in the second quarter, and 3 GW advanced development. This itself was up from 10 GW under construction in the year’s first quarter, and 5.1 GW in advanced development. So there is growth and movement, but the country needs greater policy and investment support to really drive the country’s wind industry forward at the same rate being seen in Europe and Asia.
Looking back further, there is a steady growth in the US wind energy sector, which has definitely benefited from increased policy support over the last 8 years (not including 2013).
US Annual and Cumulative Wind Power Capacity Growth
America’s wind industry has definitely had hard road over the last few years, having to fight tooth and nail for the extension to its valuable Production Tax Credit, but maybe it’s not yet time to break out the champagne again.
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