Renewable generation capacity expected to account for most 2016 capacity additions

Originally published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration

EIA Electric Generators Report

Once final data are in, EIA expects 24 gigawatts (GW) of new generating capacity to be added to the power grid during 2016. For the third consecutive year, more than half of these additions are renewable technologies, especially wind and solar.

Of the 2016 renewable additions, nearly 60% were scheduled to come online during the fourth quarter. Renewable capacity additions are often highest in the final months of the year, in part, because of timing qualifications for federal, state, or local tax incentives. Estimated fourth-quarter capacity additions for 2016 are based on planned additions reported to EIA and are subject to change based on actual project schedules.

Monthly U.S. renewable electricity generation peaked in March as high precipitation and melting snowpack led to a monthly peak in hydroelectric generation and strong wind resources led to a monthly peak in wind generation. Most renewable generation comes from the Western census division, which accounted for the majority of the hydroelectric (63%) and solar (77%) generation in the United States in 2016. Wind generation was more evenly spread across the country with 37% occurring in the Midwest, 35% in the South, 24% in the West, and the remaining 4% in the Northeast.

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Cheers to a great 2016 and an even better 2017

By Greg Alvarez

American Wind Energy Association

As we close the book on 2016, let’s take stock of where wind power stands and reflect on some of the year’s biggest trends.

Here’s what really stuck out to us here at AWEA:

1. Wind turbine technician became by far America’s fastest growing job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the occupation will grow by 108 percent over the next decade. That blows past the second fastest growing job, occupational therapy assistant, projected to grow by 42 percent in the same time frame. Overall, wind power supported 88,000 well-paying jobs at the start of 2016 in all 50 states. 21,000 of these are manufacturing jobs at more than 500 factories that build wind turbines and parts for them.

2. States really wanted more wind power.

Across the country, a number of state governments strengthened their renewable portfolio standards (RPS). These actions will bring more low-cost, clean wind energy to millions of families and businesses. Oregon started the trend in February, upping it RPS to 50 percent. Rhode IslandNew YorkWashington, D.C. and Michigan all followed suit over the course of 2016. Massachusetts also passed an important bill that will spur offshore wind development and add other renewables to the state’s energy mix. Here’s a full picture of nationwide RPSs.

National Map of RPS Policies

3. Fortune 500 companies thirsted for more wind power too.

A few notable examples:

  • Google announced renewables will meet 100 percent of its worldwide energy needs in 2017. Wind will supply 95 percent of that electricity.
  • Microsoft made its largest wind purchase ever.
  • GM pledged to move toward 100 percent renewable energy, and bought enough wind power to make 1,100 SUVs a day at its Arlington, Texas factory.
Bloomberg corporate buyers chart

Chart courtesy of Bloomberg

The rationale for these purchases? They’re good for bottom lines.

“(W)ind costs have gone down in the last three or four years to the point where they are the lowest-cost source of power on the grid,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global manager of renewable energy.

4. Americans love wind power.

Poll after poll showed strong bipartisan support for wind energy growth. 83 percent of Americans want to see more wind, according to a recent Pew poll, just one data point among many that all confirmed wind’s popularity crosses both geographical and political lines

5. Wind growth continued, supplying an even greater share of the country’s electricity.

There’s now enough wind energy in the U.S. to power 20 million homes, or 75 gigawatts of total installed capacity. Iowa continues to lead the way, where wind now generates 35 percent of the state’s electricity. Oklahoma joined Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota as states creating at least 20 percent of their electricity using wind. Overall, a dozen states stand at 10 percent or more.

6. Offshore wind power came to the U.S. 

Deepwater Wind’s Block Island wind farm came online at the end of 2016, ushering in a new era of American power generation. Another 13 offshore projects on both coasts and in the Great Lakes remain in various stages of development. Just this month, an offshore wind development parcel off the coast of Long Island fetched a record-shattering $42 million bid at auction.

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Accelerating the Shift to Clean Energy

Heritage Wind and its parent company, Apex Clean Energy, are committed to accelerating the shift to clean energy, here in New York and across the country. Our newest publication, Accelerate: Clean Energy Insight, covers all different aspects of wind farm development, from securing financing to optimizing turbine performance to delivering community benefits.

Check out the first volume here.

Accelerate Volume One

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Turning to Turbines: A Welcome Source of Income for Farmers

CRESTON, Neb. — The midday sun pushed temperatures past the 70-degree mark late last week while the fifth and sixth generations of the Brockhaus family gathered the last 20 acres of the fall harvest near here.

Brothers Terry and Steve Brockhaus, along with Steve’s sons Jeff and Jon, typically reap corn from these fields, but as a slight westerly breeze picked up, Steve Brockhaus looked southward over the last remaining rows of the 2016 corn crop to the purveyors of their newest cash crop: four 1.7-megawatt General Electric wind turbines.

“I’m surprised on days like today when it seems like there’s hardly any wind on the ground and they’re still turning,” Steve Brockhaus said. Read more here.

farmer_image.jpg

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National Farmers Day

A very special thank you to each and every farmer, young and old, big and small, in our area! Your work keeps our community strong.

 National Farmers Day

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AWEA: Fact Check: Wind Power Protects Wildlife with a Legacy of Care

The wind industry has always taken big steps to reduce its environmental impacts on wildlife, and in particular, bats. In addition to extensive environmental studies and siting procedures, the wind industry has also created the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative, in an effort to reduce impacts on bats in the vicinity of certain mountaintop wind facilities. In 2015, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced new voluntary best practices that would reduce impacts on bats by 30%. 

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Eagle Conservation and Wind Power Go Hand in Hand

Protecting America’s wildlife is one of my deepest passions; it’s a big part of why I’ve devoted my career to safeguarding our nation’s natural heritage. President Nixon once correctly pointed out that “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed”.

No species is more emblematic of America than the bald eagle. Once facing extinction, these magnificent birds have rebounded nicely, thanks in large part to protective laws like the Endangered Species Act and a ban on the pesticide DDT. Seeing a bald eagle is much easier today than it used to be. In fact, there is a nesting pair just down the street from my home.

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Wildlife advocates support wind power

Wildlife advocates support wind power

Scientists tell us that our wildlife, from the tiniest pollinators to the largest mammals, are facing an unprecedented threat from climate change. Pollution is altering our climate much too quickly for wildlife to adapt. We are in real danger of losing many of the animal and plant species we enjoy and depend on.

The good news is that we have technology available today to reduce that pollution – and electricity rates – by using cleaner sources of energy. One of the best ways to reduce climate pollution is wind power.

As an emission-free electricity source, wind directly combats climate change. In 2015, wind reduced the equivalent of over 28 million cars’ worth of carbon pollution. Greater savings will be seen as wind generates even more of America’s electricity. By 2030, it could eliminate up to 20 percent of the electric sector’s carbon emissions. By 2050, wind could save $400 billion worth of climate change damage.

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USFW Speaks on Eagle Conservation and Wind Turbines

"The truth is, thousands of eagles die every year for a variety of reasons — most from natural causes. The vast majority of human-caused deaths result from intentional poisoning and shooting — federal crimes that we aggressively investigate and prosecute. Most other eagle deaths are caused by collisions - with cars, buildings, power lines and other structures. Wind energy facilities represent a fraction of these deaths, and the media’s singular focus on wind turbines is a gross distortion of the truth." - Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Read more here.

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U.S. Wind Farms Invested $128 Billion into U.S. Economy Over Past 10 Years

That's right, $128 billion! Not to mention an average of $13 billion per year for the past five years alone. The American Wind Energy Assocation (AWEA) released the data last week.

Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, said, "Over this time, wind has rapidly scaled up. There's now enough wind power installed to reliably produce electricity for over 19 million American homes."

There were more records broken last year by wind energy, including capacity installed.

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