Top trends from the fourth quarter of 2017

The numbers are in for the fourth quarter and they show the wind industry delivered big results to the American economy in 2017.

AWEA released the U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2017 Market Report this week, showing strong wind installations during the fourth quarter, along with continued forward momentum with a large pipeline of projects under construction or in advanced development.

Here are some of the top takeaways from this quarter’s report:

American wind power finished the year strong

  • There are now 89,077 megawatts (MW) of wind power installed across 41 states, enough to power over 26 million American homes.
  • Project developers installed 4,125 MW of new wind capacity during the fourth quarter alone, bringing a total of 29 new wind projects online across 16 states.
  • For the year, developers added 7,017 MW of new wind capacity, representing more than $11 billion in private investment.

Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain

  • Oklahoma jumped to the number two spot in state rankings after installing 851 MW during the fourth quarter, surpassing Iowa, which had held the spot for several years. Expect these states to stay in close competition in the coming years.
  • Texas and Oklahoma led the quarter for new wind capacity, with 1,179 MW and 851 MW installed respectively, followed by Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri.
  • Texas continues to lead the nation with more than triple the installed capacity of any other state, and would be ranked sixth in the world if it were a country.

Wind workers will be staying busy with a large pipeline of wind projects

  • There were nearly 29,000 MW under construction or in advanced development at the end of the fourth quarter, a 34 percent year-over-year increase.
  • Project developers announced 4,054 MW in new construction activity and 1,338 MW in new advanced development activity during the fourth quarter, for a combined 5,393 MW.
  • A development pipeline four times larger than all of the wind capacity installed in 2017 means American workers will stay busy for years to come.

Corporate customers love wind

  • Corporate and other non-utility customers have proven themselves as a stable, consistent demand driver for wind. Non-utility customers accounted for 40 percent of total wind capacity contracted through power purchase agreements (PPA) during 2017, similar to the group’s 39 percent share in 2016.
  • In fact, non-utility customers signed all 710 MW of PPAs announced during the fourth quarter. Purchasers included first-time buyer Bay Area Rapid Transit, and repeat customers Google Energy, Facebook, and Digital Realty. Google Energy signed four PPAs during the fourth quarter, helping the company achieve its 100 percent renewable energy target at the end of 2017. Wind power supplied 95 percent of that renewable electricity.
  • To date, non-utility customers have signed PPAs for more than 7,100 MW of wind energy.

Partial repowerings are giving new life to wind farms

  • Besides new installed capacity, the U.S. wind industry completed 2,136 MW of partial repowerings across 15 project phases during 2017.
  • Partial repowerings allow project owners to deploy new, more efficient technology that increases annual energy production and extends the useful life of their wind assets. Partial repowering activity accelerated as a trend during 2017 and is expected to continue in the near term.

Be sure to check out the full report for additional details. You can see more state level facts from the fourth quarter in the AWEA state fact sheets, as well as a map of all online wind projects and U.S. wind-related factories on our website.

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