January 25, 2018 Read More →

U.S. Wind Production Seen as Surpassing Hydro in 2018

Huffington Post:

Wind power is forecast to surpass hydroelectricity for the first time as the nation’s top source of renewable electricity sometime in the next year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.

The sector is expected to produce 6.4 percent of utility-scale electricity in 2018, and 6.9 percent in 2019, propelled by a construction boom of new turbines across the country.

Few new hydropower plants are in the works, so new electricity generation depends on how much rainfall and water runoff pools in existing dams and reservoirs. Hydropower provided 7.4 percent of utility-scale generation in 2017 a particularly wet year but that figure is projected to fall to about 6.5 percent in 2018 and 6.6 percent in 2019.

“Although changes in weather patterns also affect wind generation, the forecast for wind power output is more dependent on the capacity and timing of new wind turbines coming online,” Owen Comstock, the lead industry economist at the EIA, wrote in a press release.

The news marks a new milestone in wind’s steady rise. Wind energy usurped hydropower’s generating capacity for the first time in February 2017 as turbine installations tripled from 2008.

“What this means for generation is, basically, we’re seeing greater, bigger wind turbines, and more turbines that are better situated for the environment that they’re in,” Alex Morgan, North America wind analyst at BNEF, told HuffPost by phone Wednesday morning. “So, more bang for your buck.”

Part of what’s driving the boom is a rush to build turbines to get the full benefits of the production tax credit. Congress extended the subsidy, which has been in place since the early 1990s, for five years in 2015. But the credit began phasing down by 20 percent in 2017, kick-starting a dash to build as many turbines as possible before the federal benefit expires.

Yet states are expected to continue providing incentives for wind energy long after 2020. The offshore wind industry a popular form of energy in Europe, though currently limited in North America to five turbines off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island is only expected to gain steam after 2021, according to BNEF. For example, in New York, where the state plans to get half its electricity from renewables in 12 years, a series of projects off the coast of Long Island are expected to provide 2.4 gigawatts of energy by 2030, enough to power 1.25 million homes.

“It’s no surprise to see wind power gaining in generation nationally like this as it now competes on long-term contract price in many markets across the U.S.,” Dylan Reed, head of congressional affairs at the trade group Advanced Energy Economy, told HuffPost by email.

More: Wind To Blow Past Hydropower As Top Clean Electricity Source In Major Milestone

Comments are closed.