Wind energy continues growing while costs continue falling

Right on the heels of the second-annual American Wind Week, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) released its latest Wind Technologies Market Report today.

The report confirms a bright future for American wind power, thanks to continuing cost declines resulting from improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies; increased demand from corporate wind energy purchases; and state-level renewable energy policies.

Developer and purchaser interest at an all-time high

LBNL reports a record level of wind power capacity entered interconnection queues in 2017, 81 gigawatts (GW) in total, exceeding the previous record of 67 GW reached in 2009. At the end of 2017, there were 180 GW of wind power capacity in the interconnection queues—a sizable increase from the 143 GW in the same queues just one year earlier and more than at any point since the end of 2011.

Wind farm capacity in the interconnection queues is spread across the United States, with larger amounts in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) (29 percent), Midwest (17 percent), ERCOT (17 percent), and Mountain region (14 percent). Smaller amounts are found in the PJM Interconnection (6 percent), Northwest (6 percent), ISO-New England (5 percent), New York ISO (4 percent), California (2 percent), and the Southeast (0.1 perent). The SPP, ERCOT, and Mountain regions experienced especially sizable annual additions in 2017.

Wind turbines prices remain historically low, providing greater energy security

LBNL examined wind power purchase agreement (PPA) prices across the country, finding that the average levelized PPA price was $20 per megawatt hour (MWh) in 2017. That is a 66 percent price reduction since 2009, making wind the cheapest source of new electric generating capacity in many parts of the country. PPA prices have fallen across the country, varying by region, with the lowest prices found in the Interior, where LBNL reports recent PPAs have been signed for as low as $12.7/MWh.

That means more affordable, reliable, clean electricity for millions of American families and businesses.