Wind energy saw record growth in 2020, new DOE reports find

Published on September 01, 2021 by Dave Kovaleski

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Three new reports from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reveal record growth in wind energy production in the United States last year.

The reports show not only record growth in land-based wind energy, but a significant expansion of the pipeline for offshore wind projects. They also show a decline in the cost of wind energy generation, which should lead to more rapid acceleration of renewable energy deployment,

“These reports contain such terrific news: the U.S. installed a record-breaking amount of land-based wind energy last year. They underscore both the progress made and the capacity for much more affordable wind power to come – all necessary to reach President Biden’s goal of a decarbonized electricity sector by 2035,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said.

The 2021 Land-Based Wind Market Report, prepared by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, detailed a record 16,836 megawatts (MW) of new utility-scale land-based wind power capacity added in 2020. This represents $24.6 billion of investment in new wind power projects. New utility-scale land-based wind turbines were installed in 25 states in 2020 with the most coming in Texas where 4,137 MW was installed. Iowa, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Illinois, and Missouri all added more than 1,000 MW of capacity in 2020.

The report also found that wind energy provided more than 10 percent of total in-state electricity generation in 16 states. Most notably, wind power provided 57 percent of Iowa’s in-state electricity generation, and about 30 percent each in Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

Wind turbines continue to grow in size and power, leading to more energy produced at lower costs. The average nameplate capacity of newly installed wind turbines grew 8 percent from 2019 to 2.75 MW. In addition, the analysis showed that wind turbine prices declined from $1,800/kW in 2008 to $770–$850 per kilowatt (kW) now.

Another new report is the 2021 Offshore Wind Market Report, prepared by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It found that the pipeline for U.S. offshore wind energy projects grew to 35,324 MW, a 24 percent increase over the previous year. Among the highlights, the Bureau of Ocean Management created five new wind energy areas in the New York Bight with a total of 9,800 MW of capacity. This represents most of the 2020-2021 growth of the U.S. pipeline. Also, the Block Island Wind Farm (30 MW) off the coast of Rhode Island and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot (12 MW) are the first two projects operating off U.S. coasts. In addition, Massachusetts’ Vineyard Wind I became the first approved commercial-scale offshore wind energy project in the United States.

The final new report is the 2021 Distributed Wind Market Report, prepared by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. It noted that 11 states added a total of 14.7 MW of capacity, 1,493 turbines, and $41 million for new investment in distributed wind installations in 2020.

Overall, more wind energy was installed in 2020 than any other energy source, accounting for 42 percent of new U.S. capacity, according to the DOE.

“At DOE, we will double down on efforts to deploy more wind energy around the country as we also pursue technologies to make turbines even cheaper and more efficient,” Granholm said.