Wind powered 32% of US power capacity growth in 2021

Technological advancement, state-level policies and the federal production tax credit have fueled the growth of the wind sector, according to three reports published by the US Department of Energy.

Wind power accounted for 32% of US energy capacity growth in 2021, employing 120,000 people and powering the equivalent of 40 million homes, according to three reports released last week by the US Department of Energy (DOE). Technology advancement, state-level policies and the federal production tax credit have fueled the wind sector’s growth in recent years, says the DOE.

A total of 13,413 megawatts (MW) of new utility-scale land-based wind generation capacity was added in 2021, powering around 4 million homes and representing $20bn investment, according to the 2022 edition of the Land-Based Wind Market Report, prepared by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The capacity of US offshore wind energy projects being developed and currently operating increased 14% from the previous year to 40,083MW, found the 2022 Offshore Wind Market Report by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. That included two operating projects totaling 42MW and 38 projects under development totaling 35,509MW, enough to power around 13 million homes.

There were also 1,751 distributed wind turbines added across 15 states, according to the 2022 Distributed Wind Market Report from DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The turbines, which serve on-site energy demand or support operation of local electricity distribution networks, total 11.7MW of new capacity and represent $41m in new investment in 2021.

“These reports show US wind energy deployment and generating capacity are booming – delivering cheap, reliable and clean energy to power even more American homes and businesses,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “The rapid technological and industrial advances in the domestic wind sector are creating new jobs for the clean energy workforce and assuring wind power’s critical role in achieving President Biden’s climate and decarbonisation goals.” 

By Oliver Gordon