Jobs, Clean Power Riding on the Wind

Illustration of a wind turbine against a blue sky, with 3 trees below
Published On
Aug 26, 2022

The U.S. wind power industry is billowing. According to reports, the industry has become a major contributor to the nation’s economy. It now accounts for a significant share of growth in the nation’s energy capacity. It is creating jobs on a large scale while helping the Biden administration pursue its clean energy goals.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that wind power accounted for nearly one-third (32%) of U.S. energy capacity growth in 2021. It employs 120,000 Americans and now provides enough energy to power 40 million American homes.

The DOE published three reports in August that break down growth in the industry by various sectors. The first of these, the Land-Based Wind Market Report, prepared by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, highlights new utility-scale land-based wind generation added in 2021. New capacity added last year measures 13,413 MW, which is enough to power more than 4 million homes in the United States.

Overall, 22 states installed new utility-scale land-based wind turbines. Texas led the way with 3,343 MW of installed capacity, followed by Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas, which all added more than 1,000 MW of wind.

According to the report, wind energy provided more than 9% of total electricity nationwide last year, though that percentage varies by state. For example, Iowa and South Dakota received more than 50% of their power from wind. Kansas, Oklahoma and North Dakota each received more than 30%.

Much of the nation’s increase in wind power capacity occurred offshore. The Offshore Wind Market Report, prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, found that U.S. offshore wind energy capacity increased 14% from the previous year to 40,083 MW. This number includes two operating projects totaling 42 MW and 38 projects under development accounting for 35,509 MW. The total capacity is enough to potentially power about 13 million American homes, according to the DOE.

Finally, the Distributed Wind Market Report, prepared by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, measures growth in the nation’s distributed wind power capacity. In contrast to utility-scale wind power, these are turbines that serve on-site energy demand or support operation of local electricity distribution networks.

The report finds that 1,751 distributed wind turbines were added across 15 states last year. The combined total of this new generating capacity measures 11.7 MW, contributing to a cumulative U.S. distributed wind capacity of 1,075 MW from more than 89,000 wind turbines across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at richardlaezman@msn.com.

Stay Informed Join our Newsletter

Having trouble finding time to sit down with the latest issue of
ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR? Don't worry, we'll come to you.