Wind energy: New projects up 40% in 2017
While the US wind industry only installed 237 megawatts (MW) in the second quarter of this year, the industry can nevertheless be comforted by the knowledge that there are 40% more wind projects currently under development than at the same time a year earlier, heralding strong growth ahead.
The US wind industry rarely starts off the year strong, having relied on mammoth fourth quarters for many years now, as can be seen in the graph below:
Despite the first quarter representing the strongest first quarter the US wind industry had since 2009, the country’s second quarter was much less impressive, installing only 237 MW, well down on the 2 gigawatts (GW) installed in the first quarter, and down on the 310 MW installed in the same quarter a year earlier. This brings the country’s cumulative wind energy capacity up to 84,405 MW, made up of 52,000 commercial wind turbines currently operating in 41 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico.
However, given that the US wind energy industry’s second quarter is always lacklustre, the focus this quarter is less on how much was installed than on how much is about to be installed.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, which published the latest wind energy figures in its US Wind Industry Second Quarter 2017 Market Report on Thursday, the US now has 40% more wind projects under construction or in advanced development than it did during the same quarter a year ago. In total, 29 separate wind energy projects representing a combined 3,841 MW entered construction or advanced development between April and June, bringing the total amount of wind projects currently underway in the United States up to an impressive 25,819 MW — up 7,500 MW from the 18,279 MW underway a year ago. That’s not bad, considering that between then and now, a total of 10,000 MW of additional wind projects came online during the intervening period and were thus subtracted from the under-construction total.
Nearly 80% of wind energy construction or development is found in the Midwest, Texas, and the Mountain West. Also highlighted in the report is the fact that 6 major commercial and industrial customers are buying US wind power for the first time, including Apple and General Mills.
“The path to unlocking America’s full energy potential is clear with another strong jump in the number of wind projects moving forward,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Wind energy makes our power system more reliable and resilient and protects consumers by diversifying our energy mix. The wind industry is propelling American energy production, manufacturing, and job creation into the 21st Century.”
Offshore wind continues to advance in the United States as well, with two offshore wind projects awarded Maryland offshore renewable energy credits, totalling 368 MW, while Massachusetts issued a request for proposals for between 400 MW and 800 MW of offshore wind power.