US wind data

US wind data

February 20, 2018 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

New wind farm construction dipped in 2017, but should pick up again in 2018.

There is fear that a lot of projects are being pushed into 2019 and 2020. There is evidence that construction companies that erect turbines are already becoming booked for 2020.

Grid congestion has emerged as the other top concern. Some wind CEOs say that they can build wind farms, but there is no room on the grid to move electricity in places like MISO, the section of the US grid from Indiana and Michigan west to eastern Montana.

The US added 7,017 megawatts of new wind capacity in 2017, compared to 8,200 megawatts the year before, according to data released by the American Wind Energy Association at the end of January. New construction is expected to return to about 8,000 megawatts in 2018.

Total US wind capacity was 89,077 megawatts at the end of 2017.

Wind developers reported 13,332 megawatts of projects were under construction, and another 15,336 megawatts of projects were in advanced development, at the end of 2017.

According to FERC data, US wind developers have proposed 465 new wind farms with a combined capacity of 72,560 megawatts through the end of 2020. A little more than half the projects are expected to be built.

MAKE, a consultancy, estimates that enough equipment was stockpiled by wind developers in 2016 to allow 45,000 megawatts of wind farms to qualify for federal tax credits at the full rate. A flurry of additional equipment purchases in 2017 qualified up to another 10,000 megawatts of projects for tax credits at 80% of the full rate. MAKE says another 16,000 megawatts of projects may have been under construction in 2016 or 2017, thus qualifying for tax credits, based on physical work on the site or at a factory on turbines, transformers or other equipment.

Oklahoma is now second in installed capacity, after Texas. (See related news item on “An Oklahoma Bill” in this issue.) Installed capacity in Texas is 22,637 megawatts. Oklahoma has 7,495 megawatts. The two states alone account for a little over a third of all US wind capacity.

Wind developers signed 3,317 megawatts of power purchase agreements with utilities in 2017. Another 2,178 megawatts of PPAs were signed with corporate offtakers. (See related news item on “Corporate PPAs” in this issue.)

There were 2,136 megawatts of repowerings of existing wind farms in 2017, a large part of it by a single developer. Repowerings are expected to pick up from 2018 through 2020.

Four turbine vendors had 99% of the US turbine market. Vestas led with a 35% market share. GE had 29%, Siemens Gamesa 23% and Nordex 11%.