2016 looks like it could be a windy year. We aren’t talking about the weather, but rather the surge in wind power expected this year. Improved technology and better access to financing are making wind more competitive with fossil fuels in many regions of the U.S. In a Washington Post article that reported 2016 as a potential record breaking year for wind energy, Dan Reicher, Executive Director of Stanford University’s Steve-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, agreed a renewable revolution is under way. He went on to say “Renewables have turned the corner in a fundamental way… The policy base for renewables has strengthened, both on the incentives side and through mandates…At the same time, the financing of renewable-energy projects has become a mainstream business for Wall Street. The early-stage investments from Silicon Valley for clean energy were small potatoes compared to the massive investments Wall Street is making. It truly is a global business.”
Companies such as IKEA, Google, and LEGO are increasingly choosing wind energy to power their operations because it makes sense economically. Wind is inexpensive and emissions-free (aside from initial manufacturing and installation and service), thus making it very appealing to companies that want to reduce their emissions and want access to reliable, inexpensive power. Technological advancements and increased U.S. manufacturing have decreased wind’s cost 66% over the last 6 years, according to a report by NPR.
Wind installations during the fourth quarter of 2015 represent the second strongest quarter ever recorded, and significantly more than the 4,854 MW installed in all of 2014. The total installations across 2015 trail only 2009 and 2012. Altogether there is now 74,472 MW of installed wind capacity in the U.S. and more than 52,000 operating wind turbines.
“The U.S. wind industry hasn’t seen this kind of rapid growth for years,” said John Hensley, Manager, Industry Data & Analysis, for AWEA. “After surpassing the 70 gigawatt (GW) milestone late last year, American wind power is on the verge of reaching 75 GW of installed capacity in coming months.”
- According to energy analytics firm IHS, the energy market is set to explode to an annual installations size of 6 gigawatts (GW) in 2017 and over 40 GW by 2022 from an initial base of only 0.34 GW installed in 2012 and 2013. energystorage.org
- According to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the average cost of developing wind projects will fall by 32 percent and the cost of solar PV projects will fall by 48 percent by 2040. Within a decade, wind will become “the least-cost option almost universally.” And by 2030, solar will become the cheapest resource. greentechmedia.com
- Among the leading demand centers of solar panels will be China and India. China aims to have installed solar power capacity of up to 200 GW by 2020, while India has set an installed capacity target of 100 GW by 2022. cleantechnica.com
- By 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan will create nearly 100,000 more jobs than are lost, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank.thinkprogress.org
- The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative estimates the construction trades contribute as much as 30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and consume up to 40% of all energy used worldwide.greenbuildingelements.com