In 2020 the US saw a record high in wind power production with over 17GW of new capacity installed.

Texas ranks first in the US for installed wind capacity and numbers of turbines, which generates a staggering 28% of the nation’s total wind power. Wind has become the ‘most-used’ source of renewable electricity generation in the US and now is one of the cheapest modes of electricity.

The History

Oil shortages in the 1970s saw an increase in wind power when the government set out to find alternative energy sources. The first wind farms were built in the 80s but look nothing like the modern technology we are used to seeing today. The old 50kw turbines that were used back then would generate electricity for around 14 homes per day, but now the average wind turbine produces an output of 1.67MW and will generate electricity for around 460 homes per day.

Since 1980 the cost of wind energy has rapidly decreased and in the US electricity production from wind has grown from 0.09% in the 1990s to 7.05% in 2020 – comparative to other energy sources. This is thanks to technology advancing over the years – the wind turbine blade themselves have gotten longer and lighter, and they are now implementing curved tips onto the blades that are designed to operate more efficiently at slower wind speeds.

Globally 95.4% of wind power is generated onshore rather than at sea, but in the US that proportion is 99.9%. Deeper than average waters surround the coast of the US creating a struggle for offshore wind installations, but this challenge has been overcome through onshore wind installation & energy productions with the US contributing enough wind energy production ranking third globally with wind capacity at 122,478MW, behind China (271,500MW) and Europe (195,00MW).

As of 2020 the US had 122,468MW total wind capacity, which is enough to generate electricity for 38 million homes. GE, Siemens and Vestas are the formidable contributors to the wind turbine development and installation across the US.

With only 1 fully commissioned offshore wind farm in the US; Block Island, there are huge plans to increase this mode of wind energy production. Prediction says that by 2030 offshore wind will be a $70 billion market. In 2019 the US had 42MW capacity in offshore wind and plan to generate 28,521MW in future installations.

The Future

The department of energy has delivered a road map for generating 20% of US energy from wind by 2030 and 35% by 2050. Wind power capacity has already tripled in the past decade and is projected to double again in the decade to come. Net Zero emission pledges to help to drive the industry forward from major corporations such as Amazon, McDonalds and Starbucks seeing them sign virtual power purchase agreements from new renewable energy facilities. With governments fighting to become the first country to hit net zero the US are determined to reach the summit first and with new technology been created daily, the race is on.