Wind Energy Kicks off 2016 with a Bang

The American wind energy industry kicked off the year with a bang – the best since first quarter 2012. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind added 520 MW of new generating capacity from January – March of this year. The U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2016 Market Report also found the industry has begun construction on another 2,000 MW with a total of more than 10,100 MW of wind capacity currently under construction.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 8.24.25 AM“Our productive first quarter reflects the strength of American wind power entering 2016. We have a low-cost product that’s in high demand,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “As the wind business builds momentum, we’re prepared to double wind’s contribution to America’s electricity supply in the next five years.”

There are now more than 48,800 wind turbines operating in 40 states plus Puerto Rico and, for the first time, Guam – enough to power 20 million average homes with 74,512 MW of total installed capacity. Turbines were installed at seven projects across six states this quarter; Oklahoma led the country with 270 MW of wind capacity installations, followed by Iowa (154 MW), Utah (62 MW) and New Mexico (32 MW).

Texas remains the leader for total installed capacity and reported construction activity and accounted for over 54 percent of construction underway during the first quarter. The Plains region of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska came next with 18 percent of construction activity, followed by the Midwest at 12 percent.

The newest quarterly market results follow the release of AWEA’s 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, which highlights the growing demand for wind energy in 2015.

US Wind Jobs Hit Record

The U.S. wind industry continues to shatter records. In 2015, wind energy supported 88,000 jobs, an increase of 20 percent over 2014. The data was released as part of the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2015 from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The strong job growth coincided with wind energy hitting the number one spot as the country’s new source of generating capacity.

US Wind Industry Annual Report 2015The report was officially released at the Vestas wind turbine component factory near Denver and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was on hand for the event. He noted in his remarks, “In 2015, Colorado ranked fifth in the nation for wind power capacity additions. An investment in the wind power industry and in wind projects generates new jobs, economic development in rural counties and clean air benefits to all Coloradans.”

Helping to fuel growth is the re-passage of the wind energy Production Tax Credit along with the Investment Tax Credit late in 2015. The report finds that wind energy is on track to meet the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision scenario of supplying 20 percent of total electricity by 2030.

“Wind power benefits more American families than ever before,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “We’re helping young people in rural America find a job close to home. Others are getting a fresh chance to rebuild their careers by landing a job in the booming clean energy sector. With long-term, stable policy in place, and a broader range of customers now buying low-cost wind-generated electricity, our workforce can grow to 380,000 well-paying jobs by 2030.”

AWEA Wind power“Made-in-the-USA wind power will help keep our economy competitive and our air clean for generations,” Kiernan added. “Our wind energy will never run out.”

The job growth in 2015 is primarily fueled by more wind project development and construction, requiring more than 38,000 employees. The report found the industry also experienced a stabilization of its manufacturing sector, which now supports over 21,000 well-paying jobs across 43 states, up over 10 percent in a year. And more than 8,800 jobs are held by wind turbine technicians, the fastest growing profession in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Texas leads the nation with over 24,000 wind energy employees. Wind project construction propelled Oklahoma to second place with more than 7,000 jobs. Rounding out the top five are Iowa and Colorado with over 6,000 jobs, and after moving up 11 spots, Kansas ranks fifth with over 5,000 wind workers. Maine gained the most in the state wind employment rankings, rising 16 spots.

2015 Sets Global Renewable Energy Record

According to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), renewable generation capacity increased by 152 GW of 8.3 percent during 2015. This marks the highest global growth ever. Renewable Capacity Statistics 2016 finds that as of the end of 2015, 1,985 GW of renewable generation capacity existed globally.

RE Capacity Highlight_Infographic“Renewable energy deployment continues to surge in markets around the globe, even in an era of low oil and gas prices. Falling costs for renewable energy technologies, and a host of economic, social and environmental drivers are favoring renewables over conventional power sources,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “This impressive growth, coupled with a record $286 billion invested in renewables in 2015, sends a strong signal to investors and policymakers that renewable energy is now the preferred option for new power generation capacity around the world.”

The report finds 2015 was a record year for solar and wind energy in large part due to a continued decline in technology costs. Wind power grew 63 GW (17%) driven by declines in onshore turbine prices of up to 45 percent since 2010. Solar capacity increased 47 GW (37%) thanks to price drops of up to 80 percent for solar photovoltaic modules in the same time period. Hydropower capacity increased by 35 GW (3%), while both bioenergy and geothermal energy capacity increased 5% each (5 GW and 1 GW respectively).

Overall, the study reports capacity has increased by roughly one-third over the last five years, with most of this growth coming from new installations of wind and solar energy.

The fastest growth in renewable generation capacity came in developing countries, in terms of regional power generation. Central America and the Caribbean expanded at a rate of 14.5 percent while in Asia, where additions accounted for 58 percent of new global renewable power generation capacity in 2015, capacity expanded at a rate of 12.4 percent. Capacity increased by 24 GW (5.2%) in Europe and 20 GW (6.3%) in North America. Continue reading

Wind Energy Provides $7.3B in Health Savings

According to a new report from the American Wind Energy Association, U.S. wind farms reduced electric power carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 132 million metric tons in 2015. In addition, wind energy reduces other harmful air pollutants including smog-causing sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which helps reduce rates of asthma and other respiratory issues. Electricity generated by wind in 2015 displaced an estimated 176,000 metric tons of SO2 and 106,000 metric tons of NOx, representing $7.3 billion in avoided health costs last year.

wind energy health“Americans will be able to breathe easier and live longer thanks to clean energy produced by American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Clean air benefits from wind power totaled $7.3 billion last year, without even including the value of carbon savings, and the industry also attracts thousands of quality jobs and billions of dollars in private investment to the U.S. economy. With wind power, states don’t have to make a trade-off between clean air and strong economic growth.”

Based on costs assumptions provided by the Harvard School of Public Health study, the tons of SO2 and NOx pollution avoided in 2015 carry a public health monetary value of more than $5.4 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively. At the start of 2016, there were 9,400 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity under construction, which is expected to reduce another 23 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year when operational, and cut overall power sector CO2 emissions by an additional one percent.

The 132 million metric tons in CO2 reductions in 2015 are equivalent to eliminating all power sector carbon dioxide emissions in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado last year.

This data is an early look at AWEA’s 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report. The report will provide a comprehensive update on the state of the U.S. wind market, job numbers, state-by-state comparisons, and more.

Clean Energy Jobs Continue to Rise

Clean energy jobs continue to rise with a new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) showing more than 2.5 million jobs in the clean energy industry across all 50 states. “Clean Jobs in America,” is based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information and new data from the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as a comprehensive survey of tens of thousands of businesses across the country. The report provides detailed breakdowns of clean energy jobs not previously available.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.54.32 AMAccording to the findings, energy efficiency is by far the nation’s largest clean energy sector employer, with nearly 1.9 million Americans while nearly 414,000 people work in renewable energy. The top renewable sectors were solar with 299,000 workers (including nearly 209,000 who work on solar full-time or close to full time, as The Solar Foundation noted in its 2015 job census) and wind with 77,000 workers.

“Clean energy is no longer a niche business – it’s a big-time job creator,” said Dan Smolen, managing director of The Green Suits, a Virginia-based talent recruitment and career development firm. “Our lawmakers need to realize that – and put policies in place, right now, to help the sector grow even more.”

Additional report findings include:

  • 328,000 people work in the energy efficient lighting industry. Another 162,000 help build Energy Star appliances.
  • Nearly 170,000 Americans work in the advanced vehicle industry, including 107,000 who work on hybrids and electric vehicles. Strength in this industry is due in part to new fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles and trucks.
  • More people work in clean energy than sectors like real estate and agriculture, and many more work in clean energy than work in dirty energy industries like oil, gas and coal extraction.

“America’s clean energy jobs market is massive,” said Philip Jordan, vice president and principal at BW Research Partnership whose organization conducted the analysis. “It ranks right up there with some of the biggest industries in the country – including real estate, management, and agriculture. When we spoke with clean energy employers nationwide, we were struck by their responsiveness to state- and federal-level policies as well as their optimism.” Jordan added, “It’s clear that by shoring up clean energy policies, lawmakers have a big opportunity to attract even more clean energy jobs to their own backyards.”

NJR Announces U.S. New Wind Project

NJR Clean Energy Ventures (NJRCEV) has announced its fourth onshore wind project, Ringer Hill Farm. The 39.9 MW project is located along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, approximately 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and will consist of 14 GE turbines. The new wind farm is expected to be complete in early 2017.

njr-cleanenergy“Wind is an increasingly important segment of our nation’s energy mix and we are pleased to do our part to bring renewable energy to the marketplace,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Resources. “Our investment in Ringer Hill further diversifies our distributed power portfolio, represents the continuation of our Company’s long-term growth strategy and provides value to our shareowners.”

NJRCEV is investing $84 million dollars in the project and expects the wind farm will qualify for federal production tax credits, which were recently extended. Once the project is completed, it joins wind farms in Alexander Wind Farm in Rush County, Kansas which began operating in December 2015; the Carroll Area Wind Farm, located in Iowa, which came online in February 2015; and, the Montana-based Two Dot Wind Farm, which has been in service since June 2014.

Armow Wind Farm Powers Up

The 180 MW Armow Wind power facility in Ontario has powered up. The Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy Group project used Ontario-made products. Towers for the 91 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines were made in Windsor and the 273 blades were manufactured in Tillsonburg.

armow wind project“Samsung is proud to complete our fourth wind project under our Green Energy Investment Agreement with the government of Ontario,” said Steve Cho, Vice President, Samsung C&T. “Armow Wind created more than 350 jobs during peak construction and supported over 750 workers from our Ontario manufacturing facilities. Samsung and its partners are creating jobs and investing in the community which is benefiting real people in Kincardine and across the province.”

According to a press statement, Armow Wind is also bringing strong economic benefits to the Kincardine community, including more than $75 million over 20 years in property taxes, landowner lease royalties and community benefits. As part of a long-term Community Benefit Program, Armow Wind committed $13.6 million dollars to the Municipality of Kincardine. The program supports education and other initiatives.

“Armow Wind is a great example of how Ontario is changing the future of electricity. Armow Wind is a project that produces clean, renewable energy and that was built by Ontario workers with Ontario-made wind turbine components,” added Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development. “Armow Wind is now generating millions of dollars in local lease payments and property taxes, updating the local airport, and improving the community of Kincardine through our community benefits program. We want to thank the landowners, other community members and the municipality for their hard work and collaboration on this project. We are honored to become a part of this great community.”

The Armow Wind power facility operates under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

U.S. Wind Industry Celebrates Great Q4

The U.S. wind industry continues to gain power with 5,001 MW installed during the 4th quarter of 2015 – more installations than all of 2014. In 2015 there was 8,598 MW was installed, a 77 percent increase over 2014. U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Report, published by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), finds strong market activity is expected to continue. Going in to 2016, 9,400 MW were under construction.

AWEA_jan report graphics“The data released today show 2016 presents an extraordinary opportunity for American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The time has never been better for states and utilities to lock in low-cost, stably-priced wind energy to achieve their Clean Power Plan carbon reductions. Wind energy is on track to supplying 20 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030.”

Wind installations during the fourth quarter of 2015 represent the second strongest quarter ever recorded with total installations across 2015 trailing only 2009 and 2012. Combined there is now 74,472 MW of installed wind capacity in the U.S. and more than 52,000 operating wind turbines.

“Low-cost, stably-priced wind energy is a ‘no-regrets’ solution for states and utilities looking for the best way to meet the Clean Power Plan,” added Kiernan. “Texas ranchers and Iowa farmers know wind power costs one-third as much as it did six years ago. Analysis by the Energy Information Administration confirms that wind energy will make up the majority of states’ lowest-cost Clean Power Plan strategy.”

Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition Adds Solar

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition has added solar energy to its lineup of renewable energy promotion and has changed its name to reflect the new addition: Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition (GWSC). The Coalition’s goal is to support renewable energy technologies that among other benefits, help to put Americans to work in all 50 states.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.45.48 PM“We are proud of Iowa’s leadership in wind energy and we are also encouraged by the recent growth in solar energy,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who just last week highlighted Iowa as one of the country’s leading wind power producers. “The addition of solar to the Coalition’s portfolio represents a commitment to future economic and renewable energy growth, and further diversification of our nation’s energy portfolio.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said of the announcement, “I support the foresight of my colleagues to broaden the Coalition’s focus and include solar energy development as a policy priority. Wind and solar provide complementary benefits to the U.S. electric grid and will help diversify the country’s energy mix. The need for states to take a broader view of renewable power is clear.”

According to SNL Energy, wind and solar energy added 61 percent of all new generation capacity in 2015 through November. As states make plans to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, wind and solar power are expected to continue supplying large amounts new electricity in the years ahead.

“I am proud to work with governors from across the country, and both parties, to advance renewable energy. The exciting growth of both wind and solar energy provide our states with tremendous economic opportunities, as well as the ability to reduce emissions, protect public health, and build a more prosperous and sustainable American clean energy future,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind power has surpassed the 70 gigawatt (GW) milestone of installed wind capacity. Per AWEA, if the pace continues, wind power can become one of the largest sources of electricity in the U.S. by supplying 35 percent by 2050. Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO noted the group has been very effective in getting policy results that help grow the wind energy industry, and said the decision to combine forces with solar energy reflects the economic and environmental value of diversifying the country’s electric grid.

Pattern Energy Completes Amazon Wind Farm

The 150 MW Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project, located in Benton County, Indiana has been completed and is fully operational. Pattern Energy Group’s wind farm will sell 100 percent of the energy produced to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to power their datacenters.

“It’s a privilege to team with AWS on the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, demonstrating the strong and growing appetite for wind power from the country’s leading corporations,” Amazon Wind Farm turbinesaid Mike Garland, President and CEO of Pattern Energy. “This facility was completed on schedule and we are beginning 2016 with all 16 of our wind power facilities fully operational. Since our IPO we have grown the portfolio by 119%, underscoring the value of our strategic relationship with Pattern Development and our ability to execute attractive third-party acquisitions.”

The Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge consists of 65 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines with ‘Made in America’ components. The turbine blades, nacelles, towers, and transformers were manufactured in the United States. “Siemens is proud that workers at our factories in the Midwest produced the turbines for the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, which continues an exciting trend of technology companies and major corporations turning to wind power for their energy needs,” said Jacob Andersen, CEO Onshore Americas, Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), companies such as Amazon, are helping to boost wind power in the U.S. with direct wind energy contracts. In other examples, Microsoft and Walmart have both contracted directly with companies to build wind farms to generate electricity for their operations.

Jerry Hunter, vice president, Infrastructure at AWS said of the project completion, “AWS has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint, and we continue to make progress towards this goal. We’re very excited to announce with Pattern Energy that the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge is now live and producing electricity, bringing a new source of clean energy to the grids that power our datacenters.”