Wind energy installed more electric generating capacity last year than any other energy source in the USA. The 8.6GW of wind power capacity installed surpassed the 7.3GW of new solar photovoltaic capacity and 6GW installed by natural gas, according to data from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the recently released Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Bloomberg New Energy and Finance (BNEF) 2016 Factbook.
Wind accounted for more than 35 per cent of new generating capacity, while all renewable resources together provided 68 per cent of the new capacity, according to the Factbook. After a strong finish last year, wind energy is off to a good start in 2016, with an additional 9.4GW under construction, an additional 4.9GW in advanced stages of development, and a predictable federal Production Tax Credit for the next several years. The rapid growth of renewables and the continued retirement of coal plants have not significantly impacted retail prices, according to BCSE and BNEF’s 2016 Factbook. The report states “retail electricity rates across the country remain 5.8 per cent below the recent peak (2008).” Innovations by the wind industry have helped lower wind power’s costs by two-thirds in the last six years, as shown by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Wall Street investment firm Lazard also found a cost decline of more than 60 percent, and notes that wind energy is the lowest-cost energy source for reducing emissions, even before tax incentives. With today’s installed US capacity, wind energy produces enough electricity for more than 19 million American homes.