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4 U.S. States With 30+ Percent Wind Power

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4 U.S. States With 30+ Percent Wind Power
Wind power in rural Iowa, one of four states that gets 30 to 37 percent of its electricity from wind power. Voice of America

Four U.S. states generated 30 to 37 percent of their energy from wind power in 2017. That's just one of the findings of the Department of Energy (DOE)'s annual Wind Technologies Market Report, released August 22.

Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota were the leaders in terms of how much wind contributed to their state's overall electricity generation, but 14 states got more than 10 percent of their in-state energy from wind power last year. Texas took the lead in added wind capacity, installing 2,305 megawatts worth.


Overall, 2017 was a good year for U.S. wind power, with $11 billion invested and 7,017 megawatts of capacity added to increase total U.S. wind capacity to 88,973 megawatts.

The U.S. added the second most wind capacity globally in 2017 after China, but when it comes to the percentage of energy the U.S. generates from wind, the U.S. lags farther behind. While wind power meets around 48 percent of Denmark's electricity demand, and around 30 percent of Ireland and Portugal's, it accounts for only 7 percent of overall U.S. electricity demand in an average year.

Low costs are currently helping the U.S. wind industry to grow.

"Wind energy prices–­particularly in the central United States, and supported by federal tax incentives–remain at all-time lows, with utilities and corporate buyers selecting wind as a low-cost option," Ryan Wiser, a senior scientist at the Electricity Markets & Policy Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which prepared the report for the DOE, said in a press release.

The cost of wind turbines has fallen to $750 to $950 per kilowatt, which has in turn decreased the cost of installing new projects. In addition, the cost of wind energy has fallen from its 2009 peak of 7 cents per kilowatt-hour to a national average of 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which has made wind power an attractive purchase for corporations, municipalities and universities, as well as traditional utilities.

One technological improvement helping the sector has been the development of bigger wind turbines. The average generating capacity of wind turbines installed in 2017 has risen 224 percent from what it was two decades ago.

The report predicted that wind power would continue to grow in the U.S. through 2020, in large part because of a production tax credit (PTC) that Congress extended for five years as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016.

Projections for 2021 to 2025 are less optimistic, though.

"Expectations for continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand growth and lower demand from state policies also put a damper on growth expectations, as do limited transmission infrastructure and competition from natural gas and solar energy," the report said.

However, the report also thought that technological innovations, as well as state renewable energy policies, could boost wind power in the long term.

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

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Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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