- Published: 05 February 2021 05 February 2021
The US wind industry added 16,913MW of wind power capacity to the grid in 2020. Most of this growth came in the fourth quarter, when developers commissioned 10,593MW of capacity. With these additions, there are now 122,478MW of operating wind power capacity in the USA. In the fourth quarter specifically, the anticipated expiration of federal tax incentives led many developers to target the end of 2020 for project completion.
Project owners commissioned 54 new wind projects across 20 states in the fourth quarter. Wind capacity additions were up 94 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. The strong quarter lifted wind project installations in 2020 to a total of 90 projects across 26 states, totalling 16,913MW for the year, an increase of 85 percent over 2019. At a state level, Texas led with 2,197MW installed during the fourth quarter, followed by Wyoming (895MW), Oklahoma (866MW), Iowa (861MW), and Missouri (786MW).
Projects totalling 34,757MW were either under construction (17,302MW) or in advanced development (17,455MW) at the end of December 2020. Total pipeline activity decreased by 20 percent from the previous quarter, due to the record level of commissioning in 2020. The combined construction and advanced development activity is spread across 177 projects in 26 states and 15 projects in federal waters. Federal waters host 26 percent of the total development pipeline, followed by Texas (13 percent), Wyoming (10 percent), Oklahoma (7 percent), Kansas (5 percent) and New Mexico (4 percent).
Despite continued disruptions from COVID-19, project developers announced 3,834MW in combined new development activity in the fourth quarter of 2020, with projects totalling 3,334MW starting construction and an additional 500MW entering advanced development.
Wind PPA announcements in the fourth quarter continued to be down noticeably from quarterly levels throughout 2018 and 2019, partially due to uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Project developers and power purchasers announced 700MW of new PPAs in the fourth quarter, bringing PPA activity for the year to 5,444MW. In a reversal from the third quarter, utility PPA activity picked up in the fourth quarter, with two utilities announcing wind power contracts totalling 450MW. Over 16GW of projects underway have a PPA in place, representing half of the current pipeline.