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Top six wind energy trends in 2017

Top six wind energy trends in 2017
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AWEA released its 2017 Annual Market report today, and it’s full of new data and positive industry trends observed over the past year. There’s a lot of good news to share, and the full report is definitely worth a read, but here are a few key takeaways you need to know:

More families and businesses than ever are powered by wind

Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Oklahoma have all achieved a significant milestone: they all now generate at least 30 percent of their electricity using wind power. That offers clear proof that wind can reliably satisfy a large portion of electricity demand. Overall, 14 states generate at least 10 percent of their electricity using wind, including Texas, the country’s largest energy consumer and producer. The U.S. now has enough installed wind capacity to power the equivalent of 27 million American homes.

A new entrant moves up the wind leaderboard

Texas continues to have far and away the most installed wind capacity, followed by Oklahoma and Iowa. But a new state is quickly moving up the wind rankings: New Mexico. In 2017, New Mexico had the highest rate of new wind growth, and it now has enough installed capacity to power the equivalent of over half a million homes. The state also has several significant projects under construction or in advanced development, so New Mexico could quickly find itself becoming a wind powerhouse.And that brings new opportunities to the state. For example, recently Facebook decided to expand a New Mexico data center specifically because it could power the facility using wind energy. Speaking of brands buying wind…

Fortune 500’s, cities and universities keep buying wind

Now a firmly established trend, non-utility wind deals continued at a healthy rate. In 2017 alone, these buyers signed 23 contracts for wind energy. Notable deals include agreements by GM, Anheuser-Busch, Amazon, Google and General Mills, among others.

Wind keeps bringing new opportunities to farming and factory towns

In 2017 alone, farmers and ranchers were paid $267 million in lease payments for hosting turbines. That’s income they can count on during times of drought or fluctuating commodity prices. Even better, that number will only continue to grow as America’s large wind development pipeline starts coming online. Here’s a look at what that can mean for farming towns:

Better technology means more wind energy

Wind technology has continued to progress at an impressive rate, and results from wind farms built over the last several years show the impact of those advances. Wind projects that came online between 2014 and 2016 have averaged capacity factors over 40 percent, a figure that nears some conventional power plants. Because new technology lets these projects reach stronger, steadier winds, they generate more electricity at a lower cost. It’s a big reason why wind is now 67 percent cheaper than it was in 2009, and it has also allowed wind to expand into new states like North Carolina, and soon, Arkansas.

Wind sets records in regional electricity markets

Each and every one of the seven Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) and Independent System Operators (ISO) set a new wind generation record in 2017. ERCOT, the grid operator for most of Texas, set the record for most wind power generation at a single point in time as wind turbines delivered 16,141 megawatts (MW) on March 31, 2017. To the North, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) saw wind meet 56 percent of electricity demand for a period on December 4, 2017 – a record for any organized market.

These increasingly high wind output and penetration rates demonstrate the ability of system operators to efficiently integrate wind power onto the grid and reliably deliver electricity. In fact, during all of 2017, SPP saw wind deliver 23 percent of all electricity generated in the market—another record-setting achievement.

Our Annual Market report is full of other useful information, so make sure to dive in and get all of the details here. You can also review the top facts and trends in the Executive Summary.

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John is AWEA’s Senior Director, Research & Analytics. He oversees the collection, verification, and reporting of industry market data on wind projects, wind-related manufacturing facilities, wind jobs, and wind energy benefits in order to position AWEA as the authoritative voice on wind energy industry information. As an extension, John provides economic analysis, market assessment, and energy policy analysis to support AWEA’s legislative and regulatory agendas. This is John’s second tenure with AWEA. In the interim, John was a senior analyst with FI Consulting, a boutique financial and IT consulting firm. He holds a Master’s degree in International Economics and International Affairs with a concentration in Energy, Resources, and the Environment from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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