DOE reports predict rapid growth for wind power sector

Published on August 28, 2023 by Chris Galford

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The past year brought major gains for the U.S. wind power sector, both in terms of new electricity capacity installed and capital investments. And according to three new reports from the Department of Energy (DOE), wind power is likely to continue rapidly growing in the days ahead.

In 2022, wind power accounted for 22 percent of new electricity capacity installed,  representing $12 billion of investment. It was second only to solar for raw new capacity, aided in part by significant tax incentives from the Biden administration that have helped keep wind power prices competitive. Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), forecasts for land-based wind energy installations in 2026 have grown nearly 60 percent – up from 11,500 megawatts (MW) to 18,000 MW. 

That’s enough to power 2 million more homes than originally anticipated. 

“As one of the cheapest energy sources nationwide, wind energy generates enough electricity to power more than 43 million homes and is creating good-paying jobs for the growing domestic wind energy workforce,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is expanding our nation’s domestic supply chain, increasing energy security, and growing the wind energy market to drive our clean energy future.”

From the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Land-Based Wind Market Report found that wind energy accounted for 10 percent of total electricity nationwide in 2022. Some 14 states installed new utility-scale land-based turbines that year, led by Texas at 4,028 MW worth. For the first time, non-utility buyers purchased more wind than utilities, with direct retail purchasers buying electricity from at least 44 percent of the new wind capacity. Further, wind turbines keep getting bigger and more powerful with average capacity growing 7 percent from 2021 to 2022. 

Meanwhile, DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory released the Offshore Wind Market Report that showed the capacity of U.S. offshore wind energy projects in development and currently operating increased 15 percent since 2021, reaching 52,687 MW. While only 42 MW is currently in operation, 40 projects worth 47,606 MW are under development and more are in the planning stage. The domestic offshore wind industry invested $2.7 billion in ports, vessels, supply chain and transmission, even as the Biden administration expands lease areas further. 

Finally, DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory released the Distributed Wind Market Report. In that analysis, researchers found 1,755 distributed wind turbines were added across 13 states last year, bringing on-site energy demand or support operation to local electricity distribution networks. It totaled 29.5 MW of new capacity and about $84 million in new investment in 2022. All told, that put cumulative distributed wind capacity at 1,104 MW across U.S. states and territories. Iowa, California and Nebraska led the pack in terms of wind capacity additions in 2022. Minnesota led in terms of small wind capacity additions, with a surge of turbines up to 100 kilowatts in size.