Why Wind Power Is Finally Taking Off in America

Illustration for article titled Why Wind Power Is Finally Taking Off in America

Last year saw a lot of wind turbines and farms being built. So many, that as of 2015, the wind industry has installed 75 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity. That’s enough to power 19 million American homes.


Today, the American Wind Energy Association announced the industry added 8.6 gigawatts of wind power capacity to the national electrical grid last year. Wind added more capacity than any other alternative energy source last year: It’s more than the 7.3 gigawatts of electricity-generating potential from solar panels installed last year and much more than the 6 gigawatts installed by natural gas. That 8.6-gigawatt number is especially important because wind power should keep growing at a steady clip.

“Wind’s growth is being propelled by cost reductions of two-thirds over the last six years, which now makes wind the lowest-cost source of new generation,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), this week. “It’s one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways we can reduce U.S. carbon emissions, and the low-cost solution for power sector reductions.”

But we’ve still got a ways to go. The US Department of Energy wants wind to power 20 percent of America’s energy by 2030. And countries like Denmark are lightyears ahead of the US, having already produced enough wind energy that outstripped national demand. For now though, literal winds of change are afoot.

[American Wind Energy Association]

Correction, 2/17: 75 gigawatts is enough to power the 19 million homes, not 8.6.

Image: Energy.gov via AWEA


Peter Larson

I grew up in rural Iowa and I know people are starting to get really sick of the way this system is set up. Government subsidies make these things possible, the power company comes in and offers you money to put it on your land with little mention of the enormous amounts of cement that will be permanently left underground on your land. They retain land access rights indefinitely. It’s not a great situation. Beyond that, it isn’t your own choice whether your neighbor decides to get one of these eyesores installed.