ORIGINAL REPORTING: Record low prices allow wind's boom to go national
Utility wind rush set to strengthen as low prices allow resource to spread across nation; IOUs, co-ops and munis alike are turning to wind for economics, not just mandates, but transmission remains a major constraint
Herman K. Trabish, March 16, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Wind’s growth spurt, as reported here, has continued unchecked in 2017.
Wind’s growth has been so rapid and its price has dropped so fast that a more important long-term trend is often missed: It is quickly expanding its addressable marketplace…Deployed wind energy capacity grew almost 19% in 2016, to 5.53% of total U.S. generating capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). By year’s end, it was the nation’s most plentiful renewable resource by capacity, surpassing hydropower. Momentum came not just from utilities aiming to meet renewable energy mandates, but because power companies saw economic reasons to invest in wind. In the fourth quarter of 2016 alone, the U.S. wind industry added 6,478 MW, bringing the 2016 installed capacity to 8,203 MW. In the U.S. alone, installed capacity topped 82,000 MW, according to the U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2016 Market Report. PPAs were executed for 4,040 MW of capacity during 2016 — 2,266 MW with utilities and co-ops and 1,574 MW with non-utility off-takers…
Total investments in U.S. wind deployments hit $13.8 billion last year…Utilities and cooperatives took 56% of the new capacity contracted for in 2016. That was up from 50% in 2015 and 40% in 2014. Non-utility off-takers, meanwhile, accounted for 39% of new PPA capacity last year, while the remaining 11% of capacity was merchant wind generation. Regulated and unregulated utilities also played an important role in project development and operation in 2016, holding at least partial ownership in an estimated 50% of the projects that went into service last year. Meanwhile, the steady decline in PPA prices is allowing utilities in new regions of the U.S. take advantage of the wind boom. Transmission capacity, however, remains a major constraint… click here for more