Energy Department Reports Highlight Trends of Growing U.S. Wind Energy Industry

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According to two reports released in August by the Energy Department, the United States’ wind energy industry continued growing at an impressive rate in 2014, further solidifying America’s position as a global leader in wind energy. Wind power is a key component of the president’s all-of-the-above energy strategy and Clean Power Plan to reduce climate-changing carbon pollution, diversify our energy economy, and boost America’s economic competitiveness by bringing innovative technologies online. With rapidly increasing wind energy generation, fast-growing demand, and steadily decreasing wind energy prices — the lowest ever seen in the U.S. — the U.S. wind energy market remains strong.

“With declining costs and continued technological development, these reports demonstrate that wind power is a reliable source of clean, renewable energy for American homes and businesses,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Through continued investments and the help of stable policies, we’re confident that wind power will keep playing a major role in creating jobs and shaping America’s clean energy future.”

Wind Technologies Market Report
According to the 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report released by the Energy Department and its Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, total installed wind power capacity in the U.S. grew at a rate of 8 percent in 2014 and now stands at nearly 66 GW, which ranks second in the world and meets 4.9 percent of end-use electricity demand in an average year. The U.S. was the global leader in total wind energy production in 2014.  The report also finds that wind energy prices are at an all-time low and are competitive with wholesale power prices and traditional power sources across many areas of the U.S.

A new trend identified by the report shows utility-scale turbines with larger rotors designed for lower wind speeds have been increasingly deployed across the country in 2014. The findings also suggested that the success of the U.S. wind industry has had a ripple effect on the American economy, supporting 73,000 jobs related to development, siting, manufacturing, transportation, and other industries — an increase of 22,500 jobs from 2013 to 2014.

Distributed Wind Market Report
In total, U.S. turbines in distributed applications reached a cumulative installed capacity of more than 906 MW — enough to power more than 168,000 average American homes — according to the 2014 Distributed Wind Market Report, also released recently by the Energy Department and its Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This capacity comes from roughly 74,000 turbines installed across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Compared with traditional, centralized power plants, distributed wind energy installations supply power directly to the local grid near homes, farms, businesses, and communities. Turbines used in these applications can range in size from a few hundred watts to multi-megawatts, and can help power remote, off-grid homes and farms as well as local schools and manufacturing facilities.

As shown in the report, America’s distributed wind energy industry supports a growing domestic industrial base. U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers claimed another strong year of exports to countries across the globe, accounting for nearly 80 percent of U.S.-based manufacturers’ sales. 

— Source: Department of Energy