The United States’ wind energy sector saw record wind capacity under construction or in advanced development in the second quarter of 2019, with its pipeline reaching nearly 42 gigawatts (GW) and a total of 736 megawatts (MW) of new capacity commissioned.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) opened August by publishing its US Wind Industry Second Quarter 2019 Market Report, the Association’s “authoritative” analysis of the country’s wind energy industry over the previous quarter. The United States’ wind energy industry’s second quarter was dominated by strong consumer demand from Fortune 500 businesses and utilities as well as calls from several states for offshore wind projects, together creating an environment resulting in record wind capacity under construction or advanced development.
In terms of actual new wind energy capacity installed in the second quarter, the sector saw 736 MW of wind power commissioned, bringing the country’s cumulative wind energy capacity to 97,960 MW with more than 57,000 wind turbines operating across 41 states and two US territories. Combined, US wind farms now provide enough electricity to power over 30 million average US homes, and is reliably providing more than 20% of the electricity in six US states.
The highlight from the AWEA’s second-quarter Market Report, however, was the increase in the country’s pipeline of projects under construction or in advanced stages of development. A record total of 41,801 MW of US wind capacity is currently in various stages of advanced development or construction, a 10% increase over the level activity at the same time a year earlier, growing by 7% in the quarter with 7,290 MW in new construction or advanced development activity announced.
“American wind power’s record growth continues to accelerate with over 200 wind farm projects underway in 33 states,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “Our industry’s success strengthens the U.S. economy because access to affordable, clean American wind power is a competitive advantage in the eyes of business leaders. And when those businesses invest in U.S. wind energy, it directly benefits the people living and working in our country’s farm, factory, and port communities.”
Regionally, more than 200 wind projects are currently underway across 33 states, 15 of which have over 1,000 MW of wind capacity expected to come online in the near term. Unsurprisingly, Texas continues to lead, with 9,015 MW of current activity, followed by Wyoming with 4,831 MW, New Mexico with 2,774 MW, Iowa with 2,623 MW, and South Dakota with 2,183 MW.
Importantly, the US offshore wind sector continues to see its momentum build, with “bold new offshore wind targets” being announced in Maryland (1,200 MW), Connecticut (2,000 MW), and New York (9,000 MW), according to the AWEA. New Jersey also granted its first offshore renewable energy certificate award to Ørsted’s 1,100 MW Ocean Wind project—the largest offshore project planned in the US so far. And, as we saw in late-July, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed deals for 1.7 GW of offshore wind with the 816 MW Empire Wind and 880 MW Sunrise Wind projects.
Wind turbines in America are also growing in size, with a number of projects selecting wind turbines with a capacity of 3.5 MW or more. Specifically, according to AWEA’s report, wind turbine manufacturers publicly reported nine orders totaling 2,049 MW for turbines ranging in capacity from 4.2 to 4.5 MW.
“We’re seeing a growing number of wind farms select turbines capable of powering nearly twice as many homes as the average U.S. wind turbine,” Kiernan added. “Wind technology innovation is keeping pace with demand, but we can’t afford to neglect the power grid infrastructure that delivers electricity from where it’s made to consumers. We continue to urge the Administration, Congress, FERC, and grid operators to ensure well-designed transmission lines can be planned, permitted, and built in a timely fashion.”