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Today in Energy

July 13, 2011

U.S. wind capacity takes off after 2005

graph of Current (2010) capacity by initial year of operation and fuel type, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860 Annual Electric Generator Report, and Form EIA-860M (see Table ES3 in the March 2011 Electric Power Monthly)
Note: Data for 2010 are preliminary. Generators with online dates earlier than 1930 are predominantly hydroelectric. Data include non-retired plants existing as of year-end 2010. This chart shows the most recent (summer) capacity data for each generator. However, this number may change over time, if a generator undergoes an uprate or derate.
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The June 16 edition of Today in Energy examined the wide age range of electric power generators for all fuels; today's article looks specifically at wind generators. From 2005 to 2009, the annual growth in U.S. wind capacity averaged 40%. Since 2006, 36% of total electric power industry capacity additions have been wind generators. The economic downturn and an uncertain regulatory environment (particularly relating to the renewal of production and investment tax credits) contributed to a lower level of wind capacity additions in 2010.

graph of Current (2010) capacity by initial year of operation
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860 Annual Electric Generator Report, and Form EIA-860M (see Table ES3 in the March 2011 Electric Power Monthly)
Note: Data for 2010 are preliminary. Generators with online dates earlier than 1930 are predominantly hydroelectric. Data include non-retired plants existing as of year-end 2010. This chart shows the most recent (summer) capacity data for each generator. However, this number may change over time, if a generator undergoes an uprate or derate.
Download CSV Data

Recent wind development is driven by State-level renewable portfolio standards (or similar legislation), as well as a Federal production tax credit and grants. While wind power is attractive due to its lack of emissions and low operating costs, its intermittency and sudden changes in production create challenges for grid operators and planners.