Renewable Energy – Wind Resources in America: Wind Power Growth Rate, Outlook and Manufacturing in the United States
Recent wind energy installations in the United States represent a total investment of $17 billion, the largest capital expenditure in the country’s energy sector. Future plans for wind power production are expected to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in additional investments for new installations, wind turbine component manufacturing facilities and infrastructure.
US Becomes World’s Largest Wind Energy Producer
In 2017, wind power provided approximately 42% of all new energy generation capacity in the United States, compared with less than two percent in 2013. Half the 8,545 megawatts (MW) of newly installed capacity was brought online in the fourth quarter alone. The U.S. currently has 28,206 MW of wind energy capacity in operation.
Due to its 2017 performance, the United States became the worldwide leader in both energy production and cumulative wind power generating capacity. The U.S. also became the world’s largest market for new wind power installations. Germany, the long-term leader in wind energy, now ranks second in both production and capacity.
Present and Future Wind Power Growth Rates
Wind energy installations in the United States have achieved a five-year (2013-2017) annual growth rate of 32%, with the largest increases in 2016 (45%) and 2017 (50%). The previous five-year average growth rate was 29%.
The American Wind Energy Association estimates U.S. wind power installations could grow by another 5,000 MW (20%) or more in 2018. The U.S. wind energy business’ ability to achieve this growth depends on government provisions for effective economic stimulus measures and implementing long-term renewable energy policies. The key program being discussed is a national renewable electricity standard (RES), which could trigger long-term capital investments for the industry.
Public Acceptance of Wind Energy Projects
According to a 2018 Saint Index survey, 82% of Americans support wind energy projects in their hometowns, with the greatest support in the Midwest. Only 43% of respondents support other types of local power projects.
US Wind Energy Market Manufacturers
The United States is approaching 50% wind turbine component production for domestic installations. Between 2016 and 2017, more than 70 domestic wind turbine component manufacturing facilities were opened, expanded or announced.
The total number of utility-scale wind turbine manufacturers with sales in the U.S. almost doubled in 2017. The 14 current manufacturers with U.S. sales include:
Six of these companies (Acciona, Gamesa, GE, Siemens, Suzlon and Vestas) currently maintain a U.S. manufacturing presence, with a seventh, new manufacturer (Nordex) ready to begin U.S. operations in the near future.
Wind Power Growth Creates New Jobs
Despite the recent global economic downturn, growth in the wind power industry has directly created 35,000 U.S. jobs, many in the manufacturing sector. Business and employment opportunities in wind energy have opened up in a variety of regions across the country, with total industry employment reaching 85,000 workers