Wind energy is growing faster than any other type of energy generation in the USA. The American Wind Energy Association (link is external) (AWEA) is clearly proud of the results achieved over the last five years: There was an installed capacity of almost 74 GW at the end of 2015. This is more than twice as much as there was five years ago.
Even though 2012 to 2014 were weak years, almost nine GW were installed in 2015 alone. That is 41 percent of the overall newly installed capacity. “Wind is winning,” said Chris Brown, president of Vestas America and newly elected AWEA board member, at the Windpower 2016 conference, which is currently taking place in New Orleans. The challenge now is to make renewable technology so cheap that it is the obvious choice. “While our fuel is free, our customers know the machines aren’t free.” The cost of wind power has nevertheless fallen by 60% in recent years.
According to the AWEA, several factors were decisive for the growth of wind power: stable policies from the federal government, future-oriented individual states with increasing expansion targets and institutional as well as other investors who want to put an end to the pollution caused by CO2.
According to CEO Tom Kiernan, AWEA is looking to continue this success story by installing eight gigawatts per year through 2020. The goal is to cover 10% of the electricity demand in the USA by then, and according to Steve Berberich, President and CEO of California Independent System Operator (CAISO), that goal will be well within reach.
The regional distribution of wind energy in the USA at the end of 2014. (Source: AWEA)
According to AEWA, the wind industry in the US currently employs more than 88,000 people. More than 128 billion US dollars have been invested in wind energy over the last ten years. Texas is currently in the lead with 17 GW of installed capacity, followed by Iowa (6.4 GW) and California (5.6 GW). Only eleven states in the USA do not use any wind energy at all, including the state hosting the conference, Louisiana. Mary Landrieu, former senator of the state and now senior advisor at Van Ness Feldman, a law firm that primarily deals with policy advice, can only talk about potential. “Louisiana has a proud energy past and a proud energy present, and we are very interested in being part of the energy future.” The state already has one foot in the door: Three turbine manufacturers are located there.