Energy Department Reports: Wind Energy Continues Rapid Growth

The Energy Department this week (August 7) released three wind market reports demonstrating continued growth in wind energy nationwide. America’s wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts (MW) of capacity last year, representing 27 percent of all energy capacity additions in 2016.

In 2016, wind supplied about 6 percent of U.S. electricity, and 14 states now get more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind. The reports cover the following market sectors: land-based utility scale, offshore, and distributed wind.

Illinois is one of only six states to have cumulatively installed at least 4,000 MW of wind capacity, ranking 6th nationwide in cumulative installed capacity with 4,026 MW of utility-scale wind. For wind capacity deployed in distributed applications, Illinois totals 26.5 MW of distributed wind capacity installed between 2003 and 2016. At the end of 2016, Illinois passed legislation, the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Bill, which adjusts some aspects of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.

The bill aims to shift utilities away from purchasing Renewable Energy Credits from out-of-state projects to providing incentives for in-state renewable energy projects. The bill also encourages the state to deploy cost-effective distributed energy resource technologies and devices and to facilitate renewable energy procurement and training programs in the state.

Wind power capacity in the United States experienced strong growth in 2016. Recent and projected near-term growth is supported by the industry’s primary federal incentive—the production tax credit (PTC)—as well as myriad state-level policies.

Wind additions have also been driven by improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies, yielding low power sales prices for utility, corporate, and other purchasers. At the same time, the prospects for growth beyond the current PTC cycle remain uncertain, given declining federal tax support, expectations for low natural gas prices, and modest electricity demand growth.

“The wind industry continues to install significant amounts of new capacity, and supplied about 6 percent of total U.S. electricity in 2016,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons. “As our reports explain, a combination of federal subsidies, state mandates, and technological advancements continue to help drive new wind capacity additions.”


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