The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) released its 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook yesterday, and the findings show more good news for wind power.
Notably, BCSE found wind and solar capacity has increased 471 percent since 2008. Even better, Americans are spending the smallest percentage of their income on electricity than at any other time on record. Electricity as a whole is down to 1.3 percent of consumer spending from 2.3 percent in the mid-eighties, proving that adding more renewables doesn’t take a toll on the wallet. That’s because wind’s costs are down 66 percent since 2009, and in many parts of the country, it’s now the cheapest source of new electric generating capacity.
“We’re reshaping the geopolitical landscape when it comes to energy and now is not the time to back away,” said Lisa Jacobson, BCSE’s president, at yesterday’s release.
“We have a near-record amount of wind power under construction or in advanced stages of development – nearly one-third as much wind power as we have currently installed in America. And turbine prices continue to fall,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “We’re seeing a record amount of investment in our sector – almost $20 billion in wind projects were financed last year.”
Continuing to build out America’s transmission infrastructure will be key in the years ahead as we look to further tap into America’s wind power potential.
We need a “21st-century transmission system” to get all this low-cost wind energy to load, said Jack Thirolf, Head of Regulatory and Institutional Affairs, Enel Green Power North America. It’s easier to site a gas pipeline than a transmission line and we need to fix that to get this needed infrastructure built, “working with and respecting obviously the interests of the states,” according to Thirolf.
The good news is studies routinely show transmission more than pays for itself while also making the electric grid more resilient. For example, studies from Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator and the Southwest Power Pool found new transmission projects saved their customers between $1,000 and $800 each.
You can find the full 2018 Sustainable Energy in American Factbook here.