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Wind Industry Closes Record 2020 with Strongest Quarter Ever

Feb. 16, 2021
The U.S. wind industry had its strongest year ever in 2020 as the amount of new wind power capacity added increased by +85% over 2019.

The American Clean Power Association (ACP) recently announced that the U.S. wind industry had its strongest year ever in 2020 as the amount of new wind power capacity added increased by +85% over 2019. The industry added 16,913 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity to the grid in 2020—enough to power more than 5 million American homes. Most of this growth came in the fourth quarter, when developers commissioned 10,593 MW of capacity, smashing all quarterly records. With these additions, there are now 122,478 MW of operating wind power capacity in the United States, providing enough power for 38 million American homes.

Project owners commissioned 54 new wind projects across 20 states in the fourth quarter, including two of the nation’s largest single-phase wind projects in history in New Mexico and Texas. On the heels of this activity, another 34,757 MW of wind projects are either under construction or in advanced development. Direct utility ownership of wind power continued to grow, while corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) lagged due to uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

These findings and the latest industry data are highlighted in the newly released ACP Market Report Fourth Quarter 2020

The record-breaking growth was due to a number of factors, including strong continued demand from American consumers for clean energy to power their homes, as well as technological improvements that have allowed renewable energy prices to become more and more competitive in the marketplace. Corporate demand also continues to play a part, as more companies turn to renewable energy to cut costs and help them achieve their sustainability goals. In the fourth quarter specifically, the anticipated expiration of federal tax incentives led many developers to target the end of 2020 for project completion.

Additional wind-related findings in the report include:

  • Wind capacity additions were up +94% in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. 
  • Projects totaling 34,757 MW were either under construction (17,302 MW) or in advanced development (17,455 MW) at the end of December. 
  • Wind PPA announcements in the fourth quarter continued to be down noticeably from quarterly levels throughout 2018 and 2019, partially due to uncertainty caused by COVID-19. 

For more information on the reports findings, read the original ACP press release