Report: Wind energy sets 8-year record as installations swell in Q1
- The wind industry installed 908 utility-scale turbines, or 2,000 MW of wind capacity, in the first quarter of this year, marking its strongest quarter since 2009. Wind energy now composes nearly 6% of total United States generating capacity, with its near-term pipeline of projects projected at 20,977 MW.
- The boom in wind capacity comes after developers rushed to install new wind facilities following the extension a federal production tax credit in 2015. The credit declines by 20% of its original value each year from 2017 to 2019, before phasing out in 2020.
- Texas still leads as the top wind energy state, installing 724 MW last quarter to bring its total to 21,000 MW.
Wind energy continues to boom thanks to the 11th hour extension of the wind PTC in late 2015, according to the latest market report from the wind trade group American Wind Energy Association.
Touting job growth and a burst in projects in the past couple of years, wind energy stakeholders expects the growth to hold steady.
"We switched on more megawatts in the first quarter than in the first three quarters of last year combined,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, in a statement. “Each new modern wind turbine supports 44 years of full-time employment over its lifespan, so the turbines we installed in just these three months represent nearly 40,000 job years for American workers.”
InsideClimate News notes, however, the industry is likely in the middle of a construction bubble as developers race to build projects before the PTC sunsets in 2020.
"We are in a PTC bubble now between 2017 and 2020," Alex Morgan, a wind energy analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance told the news outlet. "Our build is really front-loaded in those first four years. We expect that wind drops off in early 2020s to mid-2020s, and then we expect it to come back up in the late 2020s."
To alleviate any growing pains from the projected drop-off, the industry will lean heavily on state policies promoting the growth of renewable energy, particularly renewable energy portfolios or RPS. Utilities will also continue investing in wind energy as costs drop, and total investments topped $13 billion last year.
- InsideClimate News U.S. Wind Energy Installations Surge: A New Turbine Rises Every 2.4 Hours
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