According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), wind energy pricing right now is at an all-time low. The prices given by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged under 2.5¢/kWh for projects negotiating contracts, triggering demand for wind energy.
The report happens to come at a time when the Obama administration released the Clean Power Plan last week that calls for the U.S.to start relying more heavily on renewable energy sources by the year 2030 — and a lot less coal.
According to the report, wind energy in the U.S. is now at 66 gigawatts of installed capacity, providing roughly 5 percent of total U.S. electricity demand. 66 gigawatts is enough electricity to power 17.5 million homes.
It’s important to note that an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which covers wind projects that began by the close of 2014 helps the American wind power to make the further gains in productivity needed to achieve cost competitiveness with more traditional sources of electricity.
Berkeley Lab senior scientist Ryan Wiser said wind energy prices in the central United States, have hit new lows with most utilities choosing wind as a cheaper option. This capacity comes from nearly 74,000 turbines installed across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Wind energy now provides 73,000 jobs, the new report finds. Domestic job growth in the market went up by nearly half (from 50,500 to 73,000 jobs).
Turbine scaling is boosting wind project performance. The average turbine hub height has surged by 48 percent (to 83 meters), and the average rotor diameter has increased by 108 percent (to 99 meters). This considerable scaling has facilitated wind project developers to economically develop projects in lower wind-speed sites, and is driving capacity factors higher for projects located in different wind resource regimes. Additionally, turbines that were designed for lower wind speeds are now regularly deployed in higher wind speed sites, further enhancing project performance.
Of late, companies ranging from Google to Yahoo to Microsoft have been entering into power purchase agreements with wind farms to help power their data centres. Overall, wind turbines are getting taller, as well as bigger.
By 2030, the Department of Energy has envisaged the possibility of getting fully 20 percent of the U.S.’s electricity from wind. The low price has also created an increase in demand for wind energy from both individual commercial consumers and electric utility companies.