US wind energy going strong but needs stable policy playing field
Cross-posted from our sister blog, CleanTechnica.
The price of wind energy in the US is at an all time low, but officials have been quick to state the need for stable policy to continue growing the industry.
According to one of two reports published by the US Department of Energy, prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the price of wind averaged under 2.5c/kWh in 2014, which is a 65.5% decline on 2009 levels.
“Wind energy prices—particularly in the central United States—have hit new lows, with utilities selecting wind as the low cost option,” Berkeley Lab Senior Scientist Ryan Wiser said. “Moreover, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects are economically viable in a growing number of locations throughout the US.”
As already covered earlier this week, the report also determined that the US utility-scale wind energy sector supported 73,000 jobs in 2014, which is an impressive jump from the 22,500 jobs the Department of Energy recorded in 2013.
The 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report, released on Monday, concluded that total installed wind capacity in the US grew at a rate of 8% in 2014, reaching 66 GW by the end of the year, and making the US the global leader in wind energy produced in a year.
But such impressive and regular growth requires stable policy to continue.
“With declining costs and continued technological development, these reports demonstrate that wind power is a reliable source of clean, renewable energy for American homes and businesses,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Through continued investments and the help of stable policies, we’re confident that wind power will keep playing a major role in creating jobs and shaping America’s clean energy future.”
“While this report is good news, extending the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit remains critical for keeping Americans at work, reducing the cost of wind energy and continuing to scale up this homegrown resource through the end of this decade,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “Wind energy is increasingly cost-competitive in several parts of the U.S., but we need stable, predictable policy to continue bringing this consumer benefit to every corner of the country.”
“Policy stability will keep this American economic success story going,” added Kiernan.
2014 saw $8.3 billion invested into the wind power sector, with 4.9 GW of new capacity installed across the year. Wind power now comprises 33% of all new US electricity capacity additions since 2007, is meeting 5% of the country’s electricity demand, and represents more than 20% of total electricity generation in three states, and more than 12% in nine states.
The second report, The Distributed Wind Market Report, covered in depth earlier this week, concluded that 74,000 wind turbines in the US, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands reached 906 MW in 2014.
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