The U.S. wind energt industry installed over 1,800 megawatts in first quarter, but the coronavirus remains a risk

The first quarter of 2020 saw the U.S. wind power industry install more than 1,800 megawatts (MW) of new capacity, a report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has revealed.

According to the AWEA’s report, 11 new wind farm projects with a total capacity of 1,821 MW commenced operations in the first three months of the year.

The AWEA noted that this represented more than double the installations compared with the first quarter in 2019.

While there are clear positives in the report – which also said construction activity hit a new record in the first three months of the year – the coronavirus is casting a shadow over the sector.

The AWEA acknowledged this, stating that the pandemic was “posing significant challenges to the U.S. wind power industry.”

Citing its own analysis from March, the trade association said an estimated 25 gigawatts of planned wind farm projects – which represent $35 billion in investments – were at risk.

The AWEA has said that economic losses “will have an outsized impact on rural America,” where 99% of wind energy projects are situated.

In another sign that “clean energy” in the U.S. is being impacted by the coronavirus, over 106,000 people working in the sector lost their jobs in March, according to research released earlier this month.

The analysis of Department of Labor data, released by Environmental Entrepreneurs, the American Council on Renewable Energy, E4TheFuture and BW Research Partnership, painted a challenging picture for the industry. For the purposes of the analysis, the term “clean energy” encompassed a range of areas including: renewables such as solar and wind; energy storage; energy efficiency; and “clean fuels.”

Looking ahead, the analysis projected that over 500,000 people working in clean energy — 15% of the sector’s workforce — would lose their jobs in the following months unless “quick and substantive action” was taken by both the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump and Congress.