We’re three quarters of the way through an eventful 2020 (quite the understatement), but the good news is U.S. wind power just posted the best third quarter on record. That means more affordable, reliable, clean power for millions of American families and businesses. This finding and more are contained in AWEA’s Wind Powers America Third Quarter Market Report.
Here’s a roundup of four notable highlights to keep an eye on:
American wind power hits a new highwater mark
During 2020’s third quarter, 1,946 megawatts (MW) of new wind generating capacity came online, the best third quarter on record. Year-to-date, the country has added 6,309 MW of new wind, up 72 percent over the same period in 2019. Some familiar states led the way during 3Q, with Texas, Colorado, Illinois, and Iowa bringing the most MW online during the quarter. The U.S. now has over 111,800 MW of wind generating capacity, enough to power 32 million American homes.
The wind project pipeline remains at a near-record high
Although 2020 has been a strong year for new wind power additions so far, the pipeline is far from tapped out. In fact, it remains at a near-record high, with 43,575 MW of new wind projects either under construction or in advanced development. This is a nationwide story, since a dozen states have over 1,000 MW of new wind under construction or in advanced development. Offshore projects proposed in federal waters represent the largest share of the pipeline at 21 percent. That’s followed by Texas (15 percent), Wyoming (10 percent), Oklahoma (8 percent), and New Mexico (6 percent), demonstrating wind’s geographic diversity, growing from the East Coast through the Heartland.
Demand for wind continues to rise
Corporate buyers and utilities continue to power up with wind due to its low cost and zero-emission electricity. Project developers and power purchasers reported 743 MW of new power purchase agreements (PPAs) in the third quarter, bringing PPA activity through September to 4,866 MW.
Many of the country’s largest companies are also following the trend of powering their stores, factories, and data centers using wind, because it makes sense for their bottoms lines while helping them make progress toward sustainability goals. Five companies, led by Verizon Communications, announced wind power contracts totaling 689 MW.
Technology keeps improving
The days of wind turbines that generate only a small amount of electricity are long gone. Technology that lets modern turbines reach stronger, steadier winds has improved exponentially over the years. That means today’s machines can generate greater amounts of electricity at a lower cost than their predecessors. In fact, 27 percent of the wind turbines installed so far in 2020 are rated 3 MW and higher, with three projects even using 4 MW machines.
The third quarter of 2020 is providing ample evidence once again that we’re well on our way to a 21st century clean energy economy powered by renewables.