The US wind energy market saw a strong wave of demand in 1Q18, says the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in its US Wind Industry First Quarter 2018 Market Report. According to the report, wind projects announced as being in the construction or advanced development pipeline in the US during 1Q18 have a combined generation capacity of more than 5,500MW. As of the end of 1Q18, the total wind generation capacity in the pipeline across the US exceeded 30GW, representing a YoY increase of 40%.
The report finds that 36 wind projects with a combined generation capacity of 5,523MW were announced as added into the pipeline this first quarter. Out of that combined capacity, 1,366MW belong to the under construction category, while 4,158MW belong to the advanced development category. The definition of the latter category encompasses projects that have found energy buyers, placed turbine orders, or put under utility ownership. In total, wind generation capacity that was in the pipeline came to 33,449MW in 1Q18, showing a growth of 40% from the same period last year and a record high since AWEA started to look at this information in 2016.
The report also points out that utility and non-utility customers in the US wind market signed power purchasing agreements (PPAs) covering more than 3,500MW in capacity during 1Q18. The volume of PPAs was also the largest in any quarter since AWEA started to record them in 2013. Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, said in a related press release that wind has become an affordable and reliable source of green energy. With the number of projects in the pipeline increasing rapidly, the strong demand for wind power is also driving economic growth. Kiernan in the press release also pointed out that the US wind industry is now supporting around 105,500 jobs.
AWEA noted six major US companies including Adobe Systems, A&T, and Nestle signed PPAs for the first time in 1Q18. AT&T in particular made two PPAs totaling 520MW. Other major US companies that have become “repeated customers” include Bloomberg, Facebook, Nike, and T-Mobile. Up to now, more than 9,000MW of PPAs related to wind energy have been made with corporate and other non-utility customers. Moreover, utility buyers such as PacifiCorp and DTE Energy announced more large-scale wind farm projects in the first quarter.
AWEA finds that the cost of wind power is now competitive with many other energy sources as it has dropped by two-thirds since 2009. Regions in the US where wind power is currently most cost effective are the Great Plains and Texas. Even though more wind projects were announced in 1Q18, the actual installed capacity for the period totaled just 406MW, which is much lower compared with 2,000MW that was installed in 1Q17. According to the distribution of the total installed capacity in 1Q18 by state, Texas added 200MW, California 131MW, Michigan 44MW, and Montana 25MW.
Despite the year-on-year drop in installed capacity, the US in 1Q18 had around 33,449MW of wind projects in the pipeline, a huge 40% increase from a year ago. Projects under construction totaled 14,291MW, and those in advanced development stage totaled 19,158MW. This year’s installation outlook is therefore fairly optimistic as well. The regions that are driving the development of wind power include the Midwest, the Mountain West, the Great Plains, and Texas.
(The above article is an English translation of a Chinese article written by Daisy Chuang. The credit of the photo at the top of the article goes to Tom Shockey via Flickr and falls under the license of CC BY-SA 2.0.)