United States

United States

US forecast to commission 21GW of wind power in 2021

The US looks set to break last year's record for new wind capacity, but it will need to keep up this pace to meet ambitious state targets, a new report reveals

The S&P report outlines the US wind and solar project pipeline (pic: S&P)
The S&P report outlines the US wind and solar project pipeline (pic: S&P)

More than 21GW of wind and around 15GW of solar capacity should come online by the end of 2021, according to the 2021 US Renewable Energy Outlook report from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

This follows a record 2020 that saw nearly 17GW of new wind capacity commissioned, according to the American Clean Power Association.

Battery storage development is expected to grow by 15GW between 2021 and 2024.

After several US states raised their renewables portfolio standards (RPS) and other clean energy targets in 2020, S&P says 148GW of wind and solar will be needed by 2030 for all states to be compliant.

Wind is forecast to take the lion share at at just more than 80GW, thanks partly to offshore wind targets for states along the east coast, with solar contributing around 68GW.

New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Nevada and New Mexico are among states that have revised renewable energy requirements, with some putting in place 100% renewable or carbon-free generation requirements.

Some states have taken executive actions and used legislative proposals to ramp up their clean energy requirements, the report said.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has switched focus to tackling the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, according to S&P energy research analyst Adam Wilson.

However, federal tax credit safe harbour extensions were put in place for projects delayed by the pandemic.

The new laws, alongside RPS targets, will keep the demand for new wind and solar robust, S&P said.

According to the report confirmed there are currently 232GW of wind and solar projects in the US pipeline, although not all projects are likely to be realised.

The report reveals how New York has the biggest uphill climb with a 70% renewable target by 2030.

This is alongside specific targets for offshore wind, solar and energy storage, meaning the state must install more than 30GW of wind and solar by 2030 — nearly ten times its current operational renewable capacity.

California needs 20GW of renewable capacity by 2030, with 12GW from solar and 7GW from wind to hit its 60% renewable mandate.

Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland are also among the top five states with the highest demand for new renewable capacity — they all need between 12GW and 15GW of new wind and solar capacity by 2030.

More than 21GW of wind and just less than 15GW of solar capacity is in advanced development or under construction and expected to come online by the end of the year.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, wind’s share of US electricity generation increased to 8.8% in November 2020, the highest of any renewable energy resource.

The report also reveals how renewables spending is forecast to hit $39 billion between 2020 to 2022, as assessed by the Regulatory Research Associates.

S&P’s winter 2019 forecast projected around $36 billion of renewables spending between 2019 and 2021.

Developer pipelines

And an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence says that US renewable pipeline is expected to add 172.5GW up to 2024, despite record job losses in the renewable energy industry, which has slowed construction and has hit developer access to capital.

The pipeline includes 75.7GW of wind and 96.8GW of solar power projects.

Some 40.6GW of wind capacity that is in the pipeline is in early development, while 18.7GW of wind power projects are under construction, with 10.1GW in advanced development.

Developers have committed to 6.1GW of capacity for new projects, the report said.

Apex Clean Energy it is the biggest owner of wind power projects under development, at 9.5GW out of a 12.2GW renewables pipeline.

NextEra Energy has renewables projects totalling 13.6GW in the works, 8.3GW of which is solar.

Chicago-based Invenergy has 6.6GW of wind power capacity under development and is also chasing large-scale solar projects.

Macquarie Green Investment Group, RWE and Engie  have 2.5GW, 2.44GW and 2.2GW of wind projects in development, respectively.

The report concludes with reports that Wall Street analysts have warned that chasing the rapid energy transition as proposed by president Biden could be “detrimental to affordability and reliability".

Biden published his $2 trillion climate plan to decarbonise US power by 2035 in July 2020.

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