A total of 7,588 megawatts of utility-scale land-based wind capacity was installed in 2018 amid record low costs and prices, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Total utility-scale wind capacity has risen to more than 96 gigawatts, and the U.S. offshore wind industry has 25,824 megawatts in development.
The DOE recently released annual market reports that show data and trends in wind installations, technologies, costs, prices and performance through the end of 2018 for the following sectors: utility-scale land-based, offshore and distributed wind.
A total of 41 states operate utility-scale wind projects. Texas has nearly 25 gigawatts of wind capacity. California, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma have more than 5 gigawatts. Wind energy provides 6.5% of electricity in the United States, more than 10% of total electricity generation in 14 states and more than 30% in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The U.S. distributed wind sector includes 1,127 megawatts from more than 83,000 wind turbines in 50 states. Distributed wind power is used at or near where it’s generated unlike wind power from wholesale generation that’s sent to consumers through transmission lines and substations.
The trend to install larger and more powerful wind turbines continued in 2018, and the average capacity of large-scale turbines installed in distributed applications in 2018 was 2.1 megawatts, nearly twice the capacity of turbines used in 2003. Commercial and industrial distributed wind projects increased in 2018, representing 29% of total project capacity. Distributed wind for utility customers accounted for 47% of capacity in 2018. With regard to small wind turbines, those with a capacity of less than 1 kilowatt account for 99% of turbines and 47% of capacity for turbines with a capacity of up to 100 kilowatts.
The price of wind energy that’s sold in long-term contracts has reached a record low. Wind power purchase agreement prices are less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, and this has been a result of higher capacity factors, falling turbine prices and operating costs, low-interest rates and the production tax credit.
The wind industry employs more than 114,000 people.