U.S. wind capacity surpasses 82,000 MW

Wind power is now the fourth largest source of generating capacity, behind gas, coal and nuclear.

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The U.S. wind industry installed 6,478 megawatts (MW) during the 4th quarter of 2016, the second strongest quarter on record, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (Washington, D.C.) latest market report. This brings the annual total for 2016 to 8,203 MW of wind commissioned in 2016, and the total U.S. installed capacity to 82,183 MW. Wind surpassed hydropower dams to become the largest source of renewable electric capacity in the U.S., and the fourth largest overall.  

And with the addition of North Carolina’s first utility-scale wind farm announced earlier this year, there are now more than 52,000 individual wind turbines in 41 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico.

More than 100,000 American workers now manufacture, construct and maintain the U.S. wind turbine fleet, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In total, wind supports more American jobs than nuclear, natural gas, coal, or hydroelectric power plants.

New growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 includes 6,478 MW, the second strongest quarter for U.S. wind power installations on record.

Texas is the leader in wind energy, with approximately three times more wind generating capacity than any other state and nearly a quarter of American wind jobs. The state continues to expand wind power, becoming the first state to pass 20,000 MW of wind capacity last year, which is roughly one-fourth of national capacity. More wind is on the way in Texas. Even with the 1,790 MW installed in the fourth quarter of 2016, there is still 5,401 MW under construction and another 1,288 MW in advanced development.

Wind power growth is now spreading up from Texas into the Plains states and across the Midwest, with about 89 percent of newly completed capacity in 2016 is found in these states. The U.S. offshore wind industry also launched in the fourth quarter of 2016 with the commissioning of the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island. Gulf Island Fabrication in Louisiana manufactured the foundations for the Block Island project, reflecting a broader opportunity for oil and gas suppliers to earn additional business in offshore wind. 

As a result of the generating capacity of wind turbines in the U.S. standing at over 82,000 MW, greater than the 80,000 MW of hydropower generating capacity, wind power is now the fourth largest source of generating capacity, behind gas, coal, and nuclear.