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2020 could be record year for U.S. wind turbine installations

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Image: EIA

According to data collected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), project developers expect more than 23 GW of wind turbine generation capacity to come online in the United States in 2020 significantly more than the previous record of 13.2 GW installed in 2012.

Just 5.0 GW of power came online in the first eight months of this year according to the EIA Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, but as is usual for wind turbine installations, most of the annual capacity additions come online in the final months of the year.

Another 18.5 GW plan to be launched in September through December, according to project timelines stated to EIA by power plant owners and developers.

The 5.0 GW capacity added in the first eight months of 2020 is already more than the capacity added in the first months of every year except 2009.

Developers plan to add another 18.5 GW in the last four months of2020: 8.9 GW in September through November and 9.6 GW in December. December is normally the month with the most wind turbine power additions.

In the previous 10 years, 41 percent of the annual wind power additions came online in December.

The eventual phase-out of the full value of the U.S. production tax credit (PTC) at the end of 2020 has resulted in more capacity additions than normal this year, just as past tax credit cuts have contributed to major wind capacity additions in 2012 and 2019.

Wind turbine projects coming online through 2023 that started construction in 2019 qualify for lower PTC values.

Texas is the state with the most wind turbine capacity (29.1 GW built as of August 2020). Project developers in Texas plan to add another 4.0 GW by the end of the year on the basis of the reported online dates.

Project developers are preparing to add 2.7 GW to Oklahoma, raising state wind capacity from 8.2 GW to 10.9 GW.

EIA’s November 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook shows that wind’s share of U.S. electricity production rose from 7.4 percent in 2019 to 8.8 percent in 2020—more than any other source of renewable electricity.

The EIA estimates that the share of wind will hit 10.3 percent in 2021. Since much of the wind capacity comes online late in the year, additional annual capacity per year appears to boost the output of wind power in the following year.

Nedim Husomanovic

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