Wind energy
Image credit: AWEA

There are now more than 100GW of wind energy farms operating across the US, enough to power 32 million American homes, marking a major milestone in the transition to a cleaner electricity supply.

The 100GW milestone was reported in the release of the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2019 Market Report.

The modern US wind industry was born in California in the 1980s. Starting from humble beginnings, the industry started to grow quickly in 2008. At the beginning of that year the country only had 25GW of wind energy, but in the eleven years since the industry has delivered an additional 75GW of total capacity.

For context, 100GW of wind energy generates more electricity than California and New Jersey together consume each year.

“100 gigawatts of wind isn’t just a number, it’s the product of 40 years of ingenuity and work from the more than 114,000 Americans directly employed by the wind industry,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan.

“Their hard work has paid off from pioneering California to the booming wind belt in America’s heartland and our first offshore project in New England waters. Wind now supplies clean and efficient power to the equivalent of 32 million American homes, sustains 500 U.S. factories, and delivers more than one billion dollars a year in new revenue to rural communities and states.”

As wind energy grows across the country, so do its economic and environmental benefits. According to the report, the wind sector supports 114,000 jobs, 500 factories, and $1 billion each year in lease payments to landowners combined with state and local taxes.

Innovation has cut the cost of wind energy by 69% in the last decade, contributing to lower overall electricity costs for American homes and businesses.

Increasing the use of wind energy also cuts harmful air pollution and preserves fresh-water supplies for drinking and agriculture. In fact, wind power is one of the most affordable and rapidly deployable options to address climate change. 100 GW of wind power avoids greenhouse gas emissions equal to 240 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year or roughly 13% of yearly US power sector emissions.

AWEA’s third-quarter 2019 report first revealed that the US has reached 100,125MW of wind energy, with more than 57,700 wind turbines spinning across 41 states and two US territories. This milestone was reached as developers installed eight new wind projects totalling 1,927MW in the third quarter, the highest third quarter for installations on record. Installations for the year total 3,667MW, a 123% increase over the first three quarters of 2018.

Strong wind power deployment is expected to continue. The near-term wind project pipeline grew to yet another record in the third quarter of 2019, reaching 46.5GW – equal to almost half of the wind energy operating today. There are now 22,651MW under construction and an additional 23,844MW in advanced development, including 5,792MW of offshore wind.

The total pipeline increased 11% over the second quarter and 22% year-over-year as project developers announced 10,090 MW of new projects in the third quarter.

Project developers and power purchasers announced 1,379MW of power purchase agreements (PPA) in the third quarter of 2019, contributing to a total of 6,179MW for the year.

Corporate customers including Sprint, Gap, and Honda signed up for 888MW of wind. Utilities announced plans to build and own 4,198 MW of new wind projects, including 2,640 MW of offshore wind.

States also continued their push for offshore wind, with New York selecting 1,696 MW from two projects to help meet its goal of 9,000MW of offshore wind by 2035, while Virginia Governor Northam issued an Executive Order for the state to develop 2,500 MW of offshore wind by 2026.

“Wind power is growing rapidly, especially with a major new market opportunity offshore,” Kiernan said.

“Americans will reap the benefits of the next 100GW of clean, reliable wind energy in much less time and at lower cost. As we speak, wind farms with a record combined capacity of over 46GW are already in the works and expected to come online in the next few years.”