No matter how you look at it, 2015 was a historic year for American wind power. Full of landmark policy decisions, impressive capacity milestones and record output, the past 12 months portend great success in the years to come.
Join us for a look back at a few of the year’s high points, and a glimpse of a bright future.
- After decades of boom and bust cycles brought on by policy uncertainty, Congress renewed the Production Tax Credit and alternative Investment Tax Credit for five years, giving the U.S. wind industry perhaps the greatest level of stability it has ever known.
- Installed U.S. wind energy surpassed the 70 gigawatt (GW) threshold, enough electricity to power 19 million American homes or with a year’s output, drive 26 million electric cars around the world. The last major milestone, 60 GW, was reached in 2012.
- “Wind Vision,” an update from the U.S. Department of Energy on a 2008 study, confirmed we’re still on track to get 20 percent of America’s electricity from wind by 2020, and 35 percent by 2050, when wind can be the nation’s No. 1 source of electricity.
- New customers realized that going green means saving green. Corporate purchasers and cities alike signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) for wind energy. Google, Amazon, GM and Washington, D.C. were just a few examples, as wind PPAs became a full-blown trend. Procter & Gamble outlined a giant wind turbine on the National Mall to celebrate its purchase. Even the zoo in your town may have turned to wind.
- Wind energy output records were set across the country this fall. Grid operators in the Midwest and Texas generated more megawatts from wind power than ever before. At times, Texas and Colorado created over 40 and 66 percent, respectively, of their electricity with wind.
- In the news recently, USA Today recognized wind energy’s importance with two front page graphic “USA Snapshots,” and Michael Goggin, AWEA’s Senior Director of Research, explained to National Public Radio how American wind energy is 66 percent cheaper than just a few years ago.
- Mr. W. found his calling, and once again AWEA’s Facebook fans loved him for it
- We learned how wind farms are built, as a MidAmerican time-lapse video of a turbine under construction went viral.
- Two Instagram heroes took a wind farm road trip across America and helped us see what wind power in our communities looks like.
- We had a wind farm wedding.