The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported another big quarter on Oct. 22, saying that more than 1,600 MW of new wind capacity was installed during the third quarter, and nearly 3,600 MW has been installed in all of 2015.
“We are on the cusp of greatness,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan upon release of the association’s Third Quarter 2015 Market Report. There are over $20bn worth of wind projects under construction currently, Kiernan said.
For the year, the U.S. wind energy industry has installed more than double the capacity installed during the first three quarters of 2014, according to AWEA’s market report. There is now over 69,470 MW of installed wind capacity across the United States, – edging closer to the 70 (GW) milestone.
A near-record of more than 13,250 MW of wind capacity is under construction nationally, with an additional 4,100 MW in advanced stages of development.
“This growth is in jeopardy however, as continued policy uncertainty could throw the wind industry off yet another economic cliff,” Kiernan said. AWEA officials hopeful a production tax credit (PTC) extension can be passed by Congress by the end of year although the GOP leadership situation in the House of Representatives probably needs to be addressed first, they added.
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted in May by a strong bipartisan margin of 23-3 for a “tax extenders” package that includes an extension of the primary federal tax incentives for expanding renewable electricity generation. However, Congress has yet to pass the bill
Highlights from the third quarter include breaking ground on North Carolina’s first-ever wind unit. North Carolina adds to the list of states where advanced wind turbine technology is creating a “wind rush,” accessing faster, steadier winds at higher altitudes, which means they can generate more electricity affordably.
AWEA officials said ample transmission infrastructure is an important catalyst for future growth of wind energy. Transmission can provide consumers with access to America’s best wind resources. The Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) lines in Texas helped to spur the ongoing wind rush in that state.
Transmission proposals in Wyoming and Oklahoma could also unlock much new wind energy potential, officials said.
Texas, the nation’s largest wind power state, was also the leader in new development in the third quarter, AWEA said.