The American wind industry installed 5,001 MW during the fourth quarter of 2015, the second highest quarterly activity on record, according to data released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) on Jan. 27.
By contrast, AWEA had reported in its previous market update that more than 1,600 MW of new wind capacity was installed during 3Q 2015.
Overall in 2015 the American wind industry installed 8,598 MW, the third largest amount ever installed in a year and a 77% increase over 2014, AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said during the fourth quarter 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Market Report call.
The United States now has an installed wind capacity of 74,472 MW with over 9,400 MW of wind currently under construction and an additional 4,900 MW in advanced development, AWEA reported.
Kiernan also praised the five-year tax credit extension by Congress last year.
Overall, wind has more than quadrupled in total capacity since 2008. Wind supplies 4.4% of U.S. electricity or enough to power 19 million American homes every year.
Here are some other takeaways from the report:
• During the past year, more than 4,300 turbines were installed across 37 projects in 17 different states. The most capacity was installed in Texas with 1,307 MW, followed by Oklahoma (853 MW), Kansas (599 MW), and Iowa (502 MW).
• Iowa is now ranked second in the nation with more than 6,000 MW of installed capacity, and Oklahoma now has over 5,000 MW installed.
• More than 1,800 MW of power purchase agreements (PPAs) were signed in the fourth quarter, contributing to the more than 4,000 MW of total PPAs signed during 2015.
• Non-utility customers increased their investment in wind. Approximately 75% of the MW contracted through PPAs during the fourth quarter were through companies including Procter & Gamble, General Motors, and Google Energy.
•General Electric (NYSE:GE), Vestas and Siemens continue to lead the domestic market with an 88% market share for turbines installed during 2015.
• Companies completed a total of 3,733 MW in project acquisitions during 2015. SunEdison led in these acquisitions with 1,273 MW.
• Projects reported as under construction are presumed to have taken steps to qualify for the production tax credit (PTC) through safe harbor or physical construction.
• Connecticut installed the state’s first utility scale wind project during the fourth quarter, which brings the total number of states with online wind projects to 40 states.
• Nine states already source over 12% of their electricity from wind year-round; that includes Kansas and South Dakota which both surpass 20%, and Iowa which is approaching 30% from wind.
•All the states without active wind projects are located in the southern corner of the country. AWEA officials noted that Tennessee now has one operating wind project and North Carolina has one project under construction. AWEA officials hope technology investments will make wind power more competitive in the South.
The cost of wind energy has fallen 66% in just the last six years. Demand for wind energy continues to rise as the states seek to shrink their carbon emissions under the EPA Clean Power Plan.