- The U.S. wind energy industry is in the middle of a near record expansion, with over 13,600 MW of capacity in construction at 100 sites in 23 states, according to the Q1 2015 Market Report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
- Several factors are driving the “wind rush” but the most important is probably the extensions of the 2013 and 2014 production tax credit (PTC) which allowed projects to qualify by beginning construction or investment within the year and then be completed in 2015 and 2016.
- Texas, the leading state for installed capacity, also leads the $23 billion expansion with 7,800 MW in construction and 110 MW of Q1’s 131 MW of completed capacity. The other top 5 states in the rush are Oklahoma with over 890 MW under construction, Kansas with more than 870 MW, New Mexico with 680 MW, and North Dakota with over 530 MW.
1,200 MW of U.S. wind energy capacity began construction in the first quarter of 2015, including the first U.S. offshore wind project, Rhode Island’s 5 turbine, 30 MW Block Island installation.
The wind market continued to attract new kinds of players during Q1, with private sector companies, electric cooperatives, and non-utility groups signing 750 MW of new power purchase agreements (PPAs), adding to the estimated 11,300 MW of PPAs signed over the last 2 years.
Building on a trend begun in 2014 when almost a quarter of all new PPAs came from the private sector, over half the Q1 750 MW were from four companies: Dow Chemical (200 MW), Walmart (50 MW), Kaiser Permanente (43 MW), and Google Energy (43 MW).
The just-released Department of Energy Wind Vision study found the U.S. industry could grow from today’s 4.5% share of the nation’s electricity to providing 35% in 2050.