Wind power in the United States

Wind power in the United States is a
branch of the energy industry, expanding quickly over the last several years. As
of the end of 2014 the capacity was 65,879 MW. This capacity is exceeded
only by China and the European Union. Thus far, wind power’s largest growth in
capacity was in 2012, when 11,895 MW of wind power was installed, representing
26.5% of new power capacity. The U.S. wind industry has had an average annual
growth of 25.8% over the last 10 years. For calendar year 2014, the electricity
produced from wind power in the United States amounted to 181.79
terawatt-hours, or 4.44% of all generated electrical energy. For fiscal
year 2013, wind power in the United States received $5.936 billion in
federal subsidies and supports, or 37% of all subsidies and supports for
electricity production. This figure does not include state and local spending.
Sixteen states have installed over 1,000 MW of wind capacity with Michigan just
breaking the mark in the 4th quarter of 2013. Texas, with 14,098 MW of capacity,
has the most installed wind power capacity of any U.S. state, and also has
more under construction than any other state currently has installed. Second
and third are California and Iowa with 5,917 MW and 5,688 MW respectively. The
Alta Wind Energy Center in California is the largest wind farm in the United
States with a capacity of 1320 MW of power. GE Energy is the largest domestic
wind turbine manufacturer. The U.S. Department of Energy’s report
20% Wind Energy by 2030 envisioned that wind power could supply 20% of all U.S.
electricity, which included a contribution of 4% from offshore wind
power. On January 1, 2013 the production tax credit was extended for another
year. Uncertainty about future tax benefits
for wind power has led some companies to relocate or close their production
facilities. Overview
The first municipal use of multiple wind-electric turbines in the USA may
have been a five turbine system in Pettibone, North Dakota in 1940. These
were commercial Wincharger units on guyed towers.
In 1980 the world’s first wind farm, consisting of twenty 30 kW wind turbines
was installed at Crotched Mountain, in New Hampshire.
From 1974 through the mid-1980s the United States government worked with
industry to advance the technology and enable large commercial wind turbines. A
series of NASA wind turbines were developed under a program to create a
utility-scale wind turbine industry in the U.S., with funding from the National
Science Foundation and later the United States Department of Energy. A total of
13 experimental wind turbines were put into operation, in four major wind
turbine designs. This research and development program pioneered many of
the multi-megawatt turbine technologies in use today, including: steel tube
towers, variable-speed generators, composite blade materials, partial-span
pitch control, as well as aerodynamic, structural, and acoustic engineering
design capabilities. Later, in the 1980s, California provided
tax rebates for wind power. These rebates funded the first major use of
wind power for utility electricity. These machines, gathered in large wind
parks such as at Altamont Pass would be considered small and un-economic by
modern wind power development standards. In 1985 half of the world’s wind energy
was generated at Altamont Pass. By the end of 1986 about 6,700 wind turbines,
mostly less than 100 kW, had been installed at Altamont, at a cost of
about $1 billion, and generated about 550 million kWh/year.
In terms of installed wind power capacity, the United States is currently
second only to China. As of 31 December 2014, the top five states with the most
wind capacity installed are: Texas
California Iowa
Oklahoma Illinois
The United States generates more electricity than either Germany or
China, for the same installed capacity. In 2011, the U.S. generated 121 TWh,
27.7% of the world’s wind generation, with 19.7% of the world’s installed wind
capacity, while China generated 73.2 TWh. Germany generated 10.6% of the
world’s wind generation with 12.1% of the world’s installed wind capacity, in
2011. The top five states according to
percentage of generation by wind in 2014 are:
Iowa South Dakota
Kansas Idaho
North Dakota The ten largest wind farms in the United
States are: The Alta Wind Energy Center in
California is the country’s largest wind farm at 1320 megawatt capacity. It
consists of 490 wind turbines manufactured by General Electric, and
Vestas. In 2012 it surpassed the Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas.
A 2012 report by a clean energy consulting group concluded that new wind
farms can produce electricity in the 5-8 cents per kWh range, making wind power
cost-competitive with fossil fuels in many areas. As of 2013, the US Energy
Information Administration estimates the “levelized cost” of wind energy from new
installations as 7 to 10 cents per kWh, depending on the geographic area, but
cautioned that levelized costs of non-dispatchable sources such as wind
should be compared to the avoided energy cost rather than the levelized cost of
dispatchable sources such as fossil fuels or geothermal. In 2015, Utah State
University found that the true cost of wind energy is higher than most cost
estimates calculate. Renewable portfolio standards require intermittent renewable
energy to exist, but at the expense of utilities and consumers. The production
tax credit makes wind power cheaper for utilities and consumers, but at the
expense of taxpayers. National trends
Wind power has increased dramatically over the past few years. In 2010,
however, newly installed generating capacity was about half of the previous
year due to various factors, including the financial crisis, and recession. In
2013 there was a 92% reduction in newly installed generating capacity compared
to 2012, due to the late extension of the PTC The graph at left shows the
growth in installed wind generation capacity in the United States based on
data from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In
2008, installed capacity in the U.S. increased by 50% over the prior year.
The world average growth rate that year was 28.8%.
As of 2014, the wind industry in the USA is able to produce more power at lower
cost by using taller wind turbines with longer blades, capturing the faster
winds at higher elevations. This has opened up new opportunities and in
Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, the price of power from wind turbines built 300
feet to 400 feet above the ground can now compete with conventional fossil
fuels like coal. Prices have fallen to about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour in some
cases and utilities have been increasing the amount of wind energy in their
portfolio, saying it is their cheapest option.
The capacity factor is the ratio of power actually produced divided by the
nameplate capacity of the turbines. The overall average capacity factor for wind
generation in the US increased from 31.7% in 2008, to 32.3% in 2013.
=Wind generation potential=According to the National Renewable
Energy Laboratory, the contiguous United States has the potential for 10,459 GW
of onshore wind power. The capacity could generate 37 petawatt-hours
annually, an amount nine times larger than current total U.S. electricity
consumption. The U.S. also has large wind resources in Alaska, and Hawaii.
In addition to the large onshore wind resources, the U.S. has large offshore
wind power potential, with another NREL report released in September 2010
showing that the U.S. has 4,150 GW of potential offshore wind power nameplate
capacity, an amount 4 times that of the country’s 2008 installed capacity from
all sources, of 1,010 GW. The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2008
report 20% Wind Energy by 2030 envisioned that wind power could supply
20% of all U.S. electricity, which included a contribution of 4% to the
nation’s total electricity from offshore wind power. In order to achieve this,
however, significant advances in cost, performance and reliability are needed,
based on a 2011 report from a coalition of researchers from universities,
industry, and government, supported by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable
Future. Obtaining 20% from wind requires about 305 GW of wind turbines, an
increase of 16 GW/year after 2018, or an average increase of 14.6%/year, and
transmission line improvements. State trends
In 2012, electricity generation from wind power was 10 percent or more in
nine U.S. states: Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota,
Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Dakota, . Iowa and South Dakota lead with wind
power making up nearly a quarter of their electricity generation. A total of
39 states and Puerto Rico now have installed at least some utility-scale
wind power.=Texas=
In 2010 Texas surpassed the 10,000 MW mark with the addition of over 600 MW of
generating capacity. Texas has many wind farms which together total an installed
capacity of 14,098 MW. At the end of 2014 Texas had over 7,500 MW under
construction. The Roscoe Wind Farm in Roscoe, Texas, Texas’s largest wind farm
with 627 wind turbines and a total installed capacity of 781.5 MW,
surpassed the nearby 735.5 MW Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center. It is located
about 200 miles west of Fort Worth and the wind farm area spans parts of four
Texas counties.=California=
Wind power in California has doubled in capacity since 2002. With a total of
nearly 4,000 megawatts installed, as of the end of 2011, wind energy now
supplies about 5% of California’s total electricity needs, or enough to power
more than 400,000 households. In 2011, 921.3 megawatts were installed. Most of
that activity occurred in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, with some big
projects in Solano, Contra Costa and Riverside counties as well. After 2014,
California now ranks second nationwide in terms of capacity, behind Texas with
a capacity of 5,917 MW. Large portions of California’s wind
output, are located in three primary regions: Altamont Pass Wind Farm;
Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm, and San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm. The giant new
Alta Wind Energy Center, is also located within the Tehachapi Pass region.
=Iowa=More than 25 percent of the electricity
generated in Iowa comes from wind power. Iowa had 5,688 megawatts of generation
capacity at the end of 2014, third only to Texas and California. Electrical
energy generated in Iowa by wind in 2014 amounted to over 16 million
Megawatt-hours. Since Iowa adopted a renewable energy standard in 1983, the
wind power industry has generated almost $5 billion in investment. The second
concrete wind turbine tower to be built in the U.S., and also the country’s
tallest at the time built, is in Adams county. Completion is expected early
spring of 2016.=Oklahoma=
Oklahoma has one of the best resources in the United States. Bergey Windpower,
a leading manufacturer of small wind turbines is located in Oklahoma.
Programs leading to careers in the wind power industry are provided at tech
schools, community colleges and universities in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma
Wind Power Initiative supports the development of wind power in the state.
=Illinois=Wind power has been supported by a
renewable portfolio standard, passed in 2007, and strengthened in 2009, which
requires 10% renewable energy from electric companies by 2010 and 25% by
2025. Illinois has the potential for installing up to an estimated 249,882 MW
of wind generation capacity at a hub height of 80 meters.
=Kansas=In 2012, Kansas saw a large number of
wind projects completed making it among the largest and fastest growing wind
energy markets. At the end of 2014 the total capacity sits at 2,967 MW. Kansas
has high potential capacity for wind power, second behind Texas. The most
recent estimates are that Kansas has a potential for 950 GW of wind power
capacity. Kansas could generate 3,900 TW·h of electricity each year, which
represents more than all the electricity generated from coal, natural gas and
nuclear combined in the United States in 2011.
Commercialization of wind power =National trends=
The average price of Power purchase agreements was $23.5/MWh in 2014.
Operating expenses were estimated to $10/MWh.
=Industry trends=Since 2005 many turbine manufacturing
leaders have opened U.S. facilities; of the top 10 global manufacturers in 2007,
seven – Vestas, GE Energy, Gamesa, Suzlon, Siemens, Acciona, and Nordex –
have an American manufacturing presence. REpower is another manufacturer with
notable usage in the United States. Plans for 30 new manufacturing
facilities were announced in 2008, and the wind industry expects to see a
continued shift towards domestic manufacturing in the coming years. In
total, 70 manufacturing facilities have begun production, been expanded, or
announced since January 2007. As of April 2009, over 100 companies are
producing components for wind turbines, employing thousands of workers in the
manufacture of parts as varied as towers, composite blades, bearings and
gears. Many existing companies in traditional manufacturing states have
retooled to enter the wind industry. Their manufacturing facilities are
spread across 40 states, employing workers from the Southeast to the Steel
Belt, to the Great Plains and on to the Pacific Northwest.
The U.S. Department of Energy is working with six leading wind turbine
manufacturers towards achieving 20% wind power in the United States by 2030. The
DOE announced the Memorandum of Understanding with GE Energy, Siemens
Power Generation, Vestas Wind Systems, Clipper Windpower, Suzlon Energy, and
Gamesa Corporation. Under the MOU, the DOE and the six manufacturers will
collaborate to gather and exchange information relating to five major
areas: research and development related to turbine reliability and operability;
siting strategies for wind power facilities; standards development for
turbine certification and universal interconnection of wind turbines;
manufacturing advances in design, process automation, and fabrication
techniques; and workforce development. In 2014, GE had 60%, Siemens had 26%,
and Vestas had 12% of US market share. Combined, they had 98%. Most new
turbines were designed for low wind. The turbine manufacturers compete with
eachother and cause decreasing turbine prices.
=Other government involvement=The DOE’s National Renewable Energy
Laboratory has announced a number of wind technology projects, including a
new state-of-the-art wind turbine blade test facility to be built in Ingleside,
Texas. The Texas-NREL Large Blade Research and Test Facility will be
capable of testing blades as long as 70 meters. It will be built and operated
through a partnership among NREL, DOE, and a state consortium led by University
of Houston, with the university owning and operating the facility’s buildings,
DOE funding up to $2 million in capital costs, and NREL providing technical and
operational assistance. The blade test facility is estimated to cost between
$12 million and $15 million and should be completed by 2010. Located on the
Gulf Coast, the Texas facility will complement a similar facility that is
being built on the coast of Massachusetts.
NREL has also recently signed agreements with Siemens Power Generation and First
Wind, a wind power developer. Siemens is launching a new research and development
facility in nearby Boulder, Colorado, and has agreed to locate and test a
commercial-scale wind turbine at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center. First
Wind owns and operates the 30-megawatt Kaheawa Wind Power farm in West Maui,
Hawaii, and has agreed to let the NWTC establish a Remote Research Affiliate
Partner Site at the facility. The Maui satellite of NWTC will collaborate with
First Wind on studies to develop advanced wind energy technologies,
including energy storage and integration of renewable electricity into Maui’s
electrical grid. In July 2008, Texas approved a $4.93
billion expansion of the state’s electric grid to bring wind energy to
its major cities. Transmission companies will recoup the cost of constructing the
new power lines, expected to be completed in 2013, from fees estimated
at $4 per month for residential customers. This lack of capacity forced
wind turbines to be shut down at times and reduced wind power generation in
Texas by 17% in 2009. In 2010, the DOE awarded $60 million for
a study of transmission requirements. Beginning in 2006, the DOE is required
to provide a transmission congestion report once every three years.
Recent U.S. policy has generally been to provide an inflation-adjusted federal
production tax credit of $15 per MW·h generated for the first ten years of
operation for wind energy sold. As of 2015, the credit was $23 per MW·h.
Renewable portfolio standards mandating a certain percentage of electricity
sales come from renewable energy sources, which are in place in about
half of the states, also have boosted the development of the wind industry.
Each time Congress has allowed the production tax credit has expired, wind
power development has slowed as investors wait for the credit to be
restored. Each year it is renewed development has expanded. The tax credit
expired at the end of 2012, bringing wind power development activity to a
near halt. A short term, one year policy was enacted at the beginning of 2013
which provides a tax credit to projects under construction by the end of 2013
and completed before the end of 2014.{cn} The PTC was first introduced
in 1992. When it was allowed to expire, development dropped 93%, 73%, and 77%
the following year.=Siting considerations=
There is competition for wind farms among farmers in places like Iowa or
ranchers in Colorado. Farmers, with no investment on their part, typically
receive $3,000–5,000 per year in royalties from the local utility for
siting a single, large, advanced-design wind turbine.
Landscape and ecological issues may be significant for some wind farm
proposals, and environmental issues are a consideration in site selection.
Worldwide experience has shown that community consultation and direct
involvement of the general public in wind farm projects has helped to
increase community approval, and some wind farms overseas have become tourist
attractions. Offshore wind power
As of 2014, the United States still had no operational offshore wind power
facilities. Development is hindered by relatively high cost compared to onshore
facilities. A number of projects are under development with some at advanced
stages of development. The United States, though, has very large offshore
wind energy resources due to strong, consistent winds off the long U.S.
coastline. The 2011 NREL report, Large-Scale
Offshore Wind Power in the United States, analyzes the current state of
the offshore wind energy industry. According to the report, offshore wind
resource development would help the country to achieve 20% of its
electricity from wind by 2030 and to revitalize the manufacturing sector.
Offshore wind could supply 54 gigawatts of capacity to the nation’s electrical
grid, thereby increasing energy security. It could also generate an
estimated $200 billion in new economic activity and create thousands of
permanent jobs. NREL’s report concludes that “the development of the nation’s
offshore wind resources can provide many potential benefits, and with effective
research, policies, and commitment, offshore wind energy can play a vital
role in future U.S. energy markets”. Coastal residents have opposed offshore
wind farms because of fears about impacts on marine life, the environment,
electricity rates, aesthetics, and recreation such as fishing and boating.
However, residents also cite improved electricity rates, air quality, and job
creation as positive impacts they would expect from wind farms. Because the
bases of offshore turbines function as artificial reefs, studies have shown
that after the initial disturbance of construction, local fish and shellfish
are positively affected. Because wind turbines can be positioned at some
distance from shore, impacts to recreation and fishing can be managed by
careful planning of wind farm locations. In June 2009, Secretary of the Interior
Ken Salazar issued five exploratory leases for wind power production on the
Outer Continental Shelf offshore from New Jersey and Delaware. The leases
authorize data gathering activities, allowing for the construction of
meteorological towers on the Outer Continental Shelf from six to 18 miles
offshore. Four areas are being considered. On February 7, 2011, Salazar
and Stephen Chu announced a national strategy to have offshore wind power of
10 GW in 2020, and 54 GW in 2030. Projects are under development in areas
of the East Coast, Great Lakes, and Gulf coast.
=New England=Rhode Island and Massachusetts state
officials picked Deepwater Wind to build a $1.5-billion, 385-megawatt wind farm
in federal waters off Block Island. The 100-turbine project could provide 1.3
terawatt-hours of electricity per year – 15 percent of all electricity used in
the state of Rhode Island. In 2009, Deepwater signed an agreement with
National Grid to sell the power from a $200-million, 30-MW wind farm off Block
Island, at an initial price of 24.4 ¢/kW·h. Construction of the Block Island
Wind Farm, a five turbine project began in April 2015.
The Cape Wind Project is an approved 468 MW offshore wind farm, on Horseshoe
Shoal in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod in the U.S. state of Massachusetts,
proposed by a private developer, Cape Wind Associates. If the project moves
forward on schedule, it may become the first offshore wind energy project in
United States coastal waters. The project has been fought by the Alliance
to Protect Nantucket Sound, formed in 2001 to oppose the proposal. The project
is expected to cost $2.5 billion. The cost of the Cape Wind project, is
estimated to be $2.6 billion. As a comparison, the cost Mid American
Energy’s 2014-2015 expansion of projects in Iowa was stated to be $1.9 billion.
The expected capacity factors of the two expansions projects are very similar. In
this case, often cited improved capacity factors for offshore wind are virtually
non-existent.=New Jersey=
To promote wind power in New Jersey, in 2007 the state awarded a $4.4 million
contract to conduct an 18-month Ocean/Wind Power Ecological Baseline
Study, becoming the first state to sponsor an ocean and wind power study
before allowing renewable energy developers to study and build off its
shores. The study focused on a designated area off the coast to
determine the current distribution, abundance and migratory patterns of
avian species, fish, marine resources and sea turtle use of the existing
ecological resources. In 2008, new federal rules greatly expanded the
territory offshore wind parks can be built. Previously, projects were only
allowed in shallow state waters within 3 nautical miles of shore. The edge of
U.S. territory is about 200 nautical miles out. Increased distance from the
coast diminishes their visibility. Waters off the coast of the United
States are deeper than in Europe, requiring different designs. In June
2010, the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection released the
results of the study which stated that the effects of developing offshore
windfarms would be negligible. Soon after, the New Jersey Legislature
created and the governor signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act.
The law provides for financial incentives and tax credits to support
offshore wind projects. It also authorized a new Offshore Wind Renewable
Energy Certificate program and rules that developers must follow to obtain
approval and receive ORECs. Atlantic Wind Connection is a proposed
electrical transmission backbone to be built off the Atlantic Coast of the
United States to serve off-shore wind farms. The transmission line, proposed
by Trans-Elect Development Company, would deliver power ashore in southern
Virginia, Delaware, southern New Jersey and northern New Jersey. As a first of
its kind project, it poses significant risks of encountering unexpected
technological challenges and cost overruns. Such an offshore backbone is
an element in the national electricity strategy.
Bechtel has been selected as the EPC contractor and Alstom as technical
advisor for the first phase of the development for the project. Google and
Good Energies, an investment firm, are the major investors in the $5 billion
project. Wind energy meteorology
Winds in the Central plains region of the U.S. are variable on both short and
long time scales. Variations in wind speed result in variations in power
output from wind farms, which poses difficulties incorporating wind power
into an integrated power system. Wind turbines are driven by boundary layer
winds, those that occur near the surface of the earth, at around 300 feet.
Boundary layer winds are controlled by wind in the higher free atmosphere and
have turbulence due to interaction with surface features such as trees, hills,
and buildings. Short term or high frequency variations are due to this
turbulence in the boundary layer. Long term variations are due to the
passage of transient waves in the atmosphere, with a characteristic time
scale of several days. The transient waves that influence wind in the Central
U.S. are large scale and this results in the power output from wind farms in the
region being somewhat correlated and not entirely independent. Large scale
distribution of wind farms significantly reduce short term variability, limiting
the relative standard deviation of the capacity factor to about 45%. The
correlation is highest in summer and lowest in winter.
Environmental regulations The US federal government has
jurisdiction to prevent bird and bat deaths by wind turbines, under the
Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden
Eagle Protection Act. Under the 2009 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act,
the Interior Department could issue permits to allow “non-purposeful take”
for activities where eagle deaths were considered unavoidable; however, as of
December 2013, no take permits had been issued to wind energy developers.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has published voluntary
guidelines for design and siting of wind turbines to minimize bird and bat
deaths. Interim guidelines were published in 2003, and the latest
version in 2012. The document recognizes that even the best management practices
may not prevent wind turbine bird deaths in violation of federal law, but stated:
“However, if a violation occurs the Service will consider a developer’s
documented efforts to communicate with the Service and adhere to the
Guidelines.” In 2013, the Obama administration was
accused of having a double standard to protect the wind industry from Bald and
Golden Eagle Protection Act prosecutions, while vigorously pursuing
violations by oil companies and owners of power lines. The administration
refused to divulge the number of raptor deaths reported to it by wind companies,
saying that to do so would reveal trade secrets. The government also ordered
federal law enforcement field agents not to pursue bird-death prosecutions
against wind companies without prior approval from Washington. The policy was
said to be an environmental trade-off to promote renewable energy.
In November 2013, the federal government obtained its first criminal conviction
of a wind power operator for killing protected birds in violation of the 1918
Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Duke Energy plead guilty, and was fined $1 million,
for the deaths of 160 birds, including 14 golden eagles, at two wind farms in
Wyoming. The Justice Department charged that Duke had designed and sited the
turbines knowing that they would kill birds; Duke noted that it had
self-reported the bird deaths, and that US Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines
for reducing bird deaths by wind turbines had not been issued when the
turbines were built. After they were charged, Duke implemented a radar
detection system, at a cost of $600,000 per year, designed to turn off turbines
when approached by large birds; the company noted that the system was
working, as no golden eagle deaths had been observed in more than a year of
operation since the radar was installed. In December 2013 the US Fish and
Wildlife Service announced that it would issue 30-year permits to wind energy
projects to allow for eagle deaths; previously, permits had been available
for only 5 years, but none were issued to wind projects. Under the 30-year
permits, wind power developers would be required to report eagle deaths, and the
permits would be reviewed every 5 years. The measure was intended to remove what
was seen as legal uncertainty discouraging wind energy investments.
The government said that an environmental review was not needed for
the change, because it was only an administrative change. The new
regulation was welcomed by the American Wind Energy Association, which said that
wind power caused less than two percent of human-caused eagle fatalities, and
pointed out that the rules would require extensive mitigation and monitoring of
eagle deaths. The extension of eagle taking permits from 5 to 30 years was
opposed by a number of conservation groups, including the American Bird
Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, and
the Humane Society of the United States. Statistics
Source: See also
American Wind Energy Association List of wind farms in the United States
Renewable energy in the United States List of onshore wind farms
Wind ENergy Data & Information Gateway Wind power in Texas
References External links
Wind Map Wind Energy in the U.S. Factsheet by the
University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems
A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, a 2013 DOE report

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