Wind power has more than tripled in 6 years — report

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The top 10 wind-energy-producing states are generating enough clean energy to power roughly 11.5 million U.S. homes, according to data released last week by the American Wind Energy Association.
The findings, based on an analysis of Energy Department data, provide another snapshot of how and where wind power is growing in the United States. Nationally, wind power now accounts for 4.1 percent of all electricity generated nationwide. It is the fifth-largest electricity source in the country behind natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydropower, according to the Washington, D.C.-based trade group.”Wind energy continues to make inroads as a major contributor to the U.S. power mix,” Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s vice president of industry data and analysis, said in a statement. “The electricity generated by American wind power has more than tripled since 2008 not only due to significant growth in new wind projects but also technology innovation leading to more productive wind turbines.”While Texas remains the runaway leader in net wind energy production, with nearly 37 million megawatt-hours produced in 2013 and 7,500 more megawatts in the development pipeline (ClimateWire, Feb. 25), the Midwest, Plains and Rocky Mountain states are emerging as the most reliant on wind energy, according to AWEA.

Nine states received at least 12 percent of their electrical output from wind turbines in 2013, according to AWEA. Iowa and South Dakota topped the list with more than 25 percent of power generation coming from wind turbines, followed by Kansas at 19.4 percent, up 7 percentage points from 2012. Idaho, Minnesota and North Dakota each produced more than 15 percent of their electricity from wind farms in 2013.

Southeast remains in the doldrums

While the country’s primary wind generation centers continue to flex their muscles and substantial inroads have been made in parts of the East and New England, wind energy remains slow to take hold across much of the Southeast and South Atlantic states.

Experts have attributed the lack of wind energy in the Southeast to a combination of factors, including lower wind ratings. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s “Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States,” the only class 3 or higher average annual wind resources in the five-state region of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina are at the “exposed ridge crests and mountaintops of the southern Appalachians.”

According to the American Council on Renewable Energy, 10 of 14 Southeastern states have no installed wind power capacity, although two of the region’s outliers are nationally recognized hubs for wind development: Texas and Oklahoma. Some states that lack homegrown wind power have, however, taken strong steps to increase the amount of wind energy moving on their grids via power purchase agreements with developers in more wind-rich states.

In its most recent assessment of renewable energy in the Southeast, ACORE noted a lack of “market signals attractive to renewable energy developers and investors — including appropriate incentives and government initiatives.” And outside Texas, the Southeast region attracted only about 10 percent of the national asset finance, venture capital and private equity raised for renewable energy in 2012, ACORE found.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount of net wind energy produced in Texas in 2013.