By Tim Daiss
Wind power capacity in the United States increased by 8 percent last year, soaring to an impressive cumulative total of 96.5 gigawatts (GW), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in a new report last week. The report said that the industry had “emerged from 2018 stronger than ever” as it now powers over 30 million American homes, with that amount projected to increase going forward. Wind power last year also brought in an estimated $1 billion in revenue to both state and local coffers.
AWEA is the national trade association for the U.S. wind industry and promotes wind energy as a clean source of electricity for American consumers.
Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, said that wind power’s “recording-breaking year shows our industry is leading the way to a cleaner, stronger 21st Century U.S. economy. America’s least expensive source of new electricity generation is also clean and inexhaustible, which gives our economy an edge in the global marketplace.”
Wind power projections
The AWEA said that wind energy is now reliably providing over 20 percent of the electricity produced in six states (Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Maine), while across the whole of the country, U.S. wind-generated 6.5 percent of all electricity delivered to consumers. Going forward, the AWEA projects that more than 35 GW of new wind power capacity will come online across 31 states in the near future. At the same time, the country’s offshore wind industry is also taking off, with six offshore projects amounting to 2.1 GW in development and expected to be operational by 2023. By the end of 2018, project developers had a potential offshore wind pipeline of over 25.5 GW.
Texas takes center stage
Texas, perhaps surprisingly, given its prominent role as the country’s top oil-producing state, led the country last year in wind energy capacity. The state is home to 25 percent of total U.S. wind power capacity and, if it were a country, Texas would rank fifth globally for wind power capacity with nearly 25 GW installed. Texas also had 7 GW worth of projects under construction or in advanced development at the end of last year. Consequently, Texas not only leads the country’s wind industry in terms of capacity but in terms of jobs and investment as well.
“Texas continues to lead the nation, with hard work and ingenuity, in harnessing this great American renewable energy resource, literally out of thin air,” Kiernan added in statements after the release of the report. “Texas has a long and storied history of energy production and as today’s report demonstrates, wind is an important part of the state’s energy success story. In many ways, the Texas wind story is the story of American wind power.”
Texas oil production also recently broke new records. According to a February report from the Texas Independent Producers Royalty Owners Association, the Lone Star state’s oil production hit a record level not seen since 1973, the same year of the Arab oil embargo that roiled global oil markets.
Texas oil wells produced more than 1.54 billion barrels of crude in 2018, topping the previous record of 1.28 billion barrels set in 1973, TIPRO reported in its annual “State of Energy Report.” Natural gas production also grew, reaching 8.8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) last year. In 2017, Texas also came close to beating the 1973 oil output record, pumping 1.26 billion barrels of oil.
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