In 2020, a record 16.8GW of onshore wind was brought online in the US, representing 50% of all new power additions, according to the American Clean Power Association’s (ACP) 2020 Clean Power Annual report. That brought cumulative wind installations to 122.4GW.
The amount of new wind capacity in 2020 was more than three times the amount connected to the grid a decade earlier.
Texas alone added more than 4GW of wind in 2020, while Iowa, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Illinois and Missouri each added more than 1GW.
In terms of cumulative capacity, wind remains the largest renewable energy technology, ahead of hydro, a trend that started a couple of years ago, said John Hensley, vice president of research and analytics at the ACP.
Combined wind, solar, and battery storage power new additions represented 78% of total new power capacity being brought online last year, according to the ACP. For comparison in 2010, just 28% of new power additions were wind, solar, and battery storage.
“The energy transition is well underway as we aim to meet important climate targets and create good-paying American jobs,” said Heather Zichal CEO of the ACP. “The clean power industry is helping to rebuild the US economy while combating the climate crisis.”
Indeed, wind turbine technician and solar installer remain the country’s first and third fastest growing occupations, according to the ACP – a trend that has held for several years. More than 415,000 Americans across all 50 states have clean energy jobs.
Wind represented more than $25 billion in capital investment last year, compared with about $15 billion in 2019 but short of the record of almost $30 billion in 2012.
As of the end of 2020, the unsubsidised cost of energy for wind power had fallen 71% since 2009 and that of solar by 90%. Wind and solar offer the lowest cost of any generation type in most parts of the US, according to ACP analysis.
GE held on to its lead in market share of wind turbines connected to the grid last year, accounting for 53%, with Vestas in second place at 34% and Siemens Gamesa in a distant third place at 9%.
Looking ahead, 2021 year is shaping up to be another big year with a “strong momentum” for clean power installations, said Hensley.
Will 2021 be another record year? “The jury is still out, but it will rival 2020,” he said, noting that the ACP is tracking 90GW of clean-power projects in development, more than half of the capacity already installed.