Wind energy is by far the largest source of non-hydro renewable power generation in the U.S. Wind generation reached 190.9 TWh in 2015, representing 71% of non-hydro renewable generation and 4.8% of total on-grid electricity generation. As of late 2016, national wind capacity totaled 74.3 GW.
Wind capacity is heavily concentrated in Texas and the Great Plains, with over 17 GW in Texas alone. Iowa, Oklahoma and California are also leading states for wind development. In 2015, the fleet operated at an average capacity factor of 31%, though that figure varies considerably between regions.
Wind turbine technology is relatively mature and the installed costs of wind projects have trended downward only slightly over the past few years. Going forward, modest cost improvements are likely as the industry transitions to taller towers and larger turbines. This shift may generate economies of scale, but more importantly, allows access to stronger and more stable wind speeds that exist at higher altitudes, resulting in higher capacity factors. In the highest-quality resource regions such as the Great Plains, higher turbines could push capacity factors for new projects to nearly 50%.
Offshore wind is also included in EVA’s analysis. As of mid-2016, only one offshore project—the 30 MW Block Island project off Rhode Island—is under construction (it is expected online by end-2016). A few other states in the Northeast (namely, Massachusetts and New York) have established strong support mechanisms for offshore wind projects but the few proposals that exist are in very early stages.
EVA tracks wind energy development on a project-by-project basis and generates both long and short-term state-by-state forecasts. EVA’s suite of modeling capabilities allows it to evaluate potential wind energy development under multiple scenarios. This includes, but is not limited to, sensitivity runs based on different gas price curves, analyses of proposed policy changes and varying assumptions for wind energy cost/performance improvement.
If you have any questions or comments regarding EVA’s wind energy services, please contact us at [email protected]