Results from a second quarter market report, released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) on July 27, show a growing and evolving industry—from increased development to new projects and customers.
Most notably, the AWEA reported a 40 percent increase in U.S. wind power projects under construction or in advanced development as compared to same time last year. All of the wind projects currently underway represent 25,819 megawatts (MW) of energy, more than 7,500 MW above the 18,279 MW underway as of one year ago. While twenty-nine projects (representing 3,841 MW) began construction or entered advanced development from April through June and were added to the total, nearly 10,000 MW of wind projects were subtracted from the under-construction total as they came online.
New wind power capacity added to the grid totaled 357 MW, similar to the second quarter last year. Nationally, the U.S. now has 84,4505 MW of installed wind power capacity, with more than 52,000 commercial wind turbines currently operating in 41 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico.
The report’s findings show nearly 80 percent of current wind turbine construction and advanced development activity is found in the Midwest, Texas and the Mountain West. Kansas, in particular, was the home of strong wind power development this quarter, becoming the fifth state to surpass 5,000 MW of installed wind power capacity. With the addition of 178 MW (the largest U.S. wind project this quarter), Kansas now has the capacity to supply 1.5 million average homes.
In addition to increased development, offshore wind generation continues to move forward. The first American offshore wind project was completed last year off the coast of Rhode Island. On May 11 of this year, Maryland’s Public Service Commission awarded offshore wind renewable energy credits (ORECs) to U.S. Wind and Skipjack Offshore Energy, LCC. According to the Maryland Public Service Commission, these credits enable two new projects to be built off the coast of Maryland, totaling 368 MW of capacity.
Finally, wind energy is finding customers in new companies and industries. General Mills became the first grocery staples producer to purchase wind energy when it signed a 15-year contractor for 100 MW of Texas wind power capacity. The company joins five other major corporate brands—Apple, T-Mobile, Goldman Sachs, Akamai Technologies and Partners Healthcare—purchasing U.S. wind energy for the first time this quarter through long-term contracts called power purchase agreements.