Flood of US wind projects ahead

Flood of US wind projects ahead

October 23, 2018 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

A flood of US wind projects should come to market over the next two years.

US installed wind capacity was 90,004 megawatts at the end of the second quarter of 2018, according to the American Wind Energy Association. There were wind farms in 41 states, with Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and California having the most installed capacity. Texas had 23,262 megawatts, or a little over 25% of total US capacity. Wind accounted for 6.5% of US electricity output.

Another 37,794 megawatts of projects were under construction or in advanced development. Of that number, 18,987 megawatts were under construction and another 18,806 megawatts were in advanced development, meaning the developer had signed a power purchase agreement or a turbine supply agreement for the project. The projects under construction or in advanced development are in 33 states, with 21% in Texas and 31% in the Midwest.

More utilities are getting into the act by building projects themselves or acquiring projects from developers under BOT or build-own-transfer arrangements. The top five utilities are Berkshire Hathaway Energy — which owns MidAmerican, PacifiCorp and NV Energy — Xcel, American Electric Power, Alliant Energy and Great Plains Energy.

A significant number of new power contracts are being signed this year by developers. A total of 4,600 megawatts of new utility PPAs and 2,700 megawatts of new corporate PPAs were signed in the first half of 2018 to sell electricity from wind farms.

MAKE, a consultancy, estimates that the US will install 8,000 megawatts of new wind projects in 2018, 11,000 in 2019 and 12,000 in 2020, before dropping to 7,000 in 2021. The consultancy arm of Swiss bank UBS is a little more optimistic, estimating new capacity additions of 11,000 megawatts in 2018 and 12,000 in each of 2019 and 2020, before dropping to 8,000 in 2021. Most remaining wind farms must be in service by the end of 2020 to qualify for federal tax credits at the full rate.