United States

United States

First-quarter US wind record as momentum builds

Projects carried over from final months of 2020 help first quarter set new record levels for commissioning as project pipelines also swell

The largest onshore wind project to come online in the first quarter was Duke Energy’s ’s 355MW Frontier II  in Oklahoma
The largest onshore wind project to come online in the first quarter was Duke Energy’s ’s 355MW Frontier II in Oklahoma

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Wind farm owners commissioned a record 2,561MW of new capacity in the first quarter of 2021, according to new figures from the American Clean Power Association (ACP).

This was the most wind capacity commissioned ever in the first quarter of a year — 40% more capacity than had been installed in the first quarter of 2020, which was itself a quarterly record at the time. 

The overall quarterly record – 10.6GW in Q4 2020 – still stands.

The higher volume of commissioning this quarter was partly due to projects planned to enter commercial operations in the fourth quarter of 2020 being pushed into the first three months of this year.

Developers had been scrambling to complete wind farms in Q4 2020 ahead of the planned phasing-out of the country's main support scheme, the production tax credit. However, Congress extended it for one more year as part of a coronavirus pandemic relief package.

The ACP counts capacity as being commissioned only once the full project is brought online.

Texas commissioned the most wind capacity in the first quarter with 592MW, followed by Oklahoma (555MW), South Dakota (462MW), North Dakota (299MW) and New Mexico (213MW)

The average size of wind projects being commissioned in the first quarter was 197MW.

The US now has 125,422MW of operational wind capacity, according to the ACP.

It also has 33,834MW of projects in the pipeline, with offshore wind accounting for 25% of this.

Most of the new wind capacity in the pipeline is in Texas (17%), followed by Wyoming (10%) and Oklahoma (5%). 

Utility-scale solar (1,197MW online in Q1) and energy storage (101MW) also had strong first quarters, keeping pace with or exceeding historic levels, the ACP stated.

“These numbers add up to one word: momentum. We are already exceeding the pace from the strongest previous year ever for clean power,” said CEO Heather Zichal. 

“This trend will only grow when more closely aligned with smart policy in Washington.”

The industry body also noted that federal regulators recently gave the final go-ahead to the US’ first large-scale offshore wind farm – the 800MW Vineyard Wind 1 Vineyard Wind 1 (800MW) Offshoreoff Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA, North America Click to see full details project – paving the way for construction to begin. Meanwhile, President Biden set a goal of 30GW offshore wind capacity by 2030.

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