Why wind power – and not oil – is the future of US energy production

Wind power in the United States is a branch of the energy industry that has expanded quickly over the latest several years. For calendar year 2017, wind power in the United States amounted to 226.5 terawatt-hours, or 5.55% of all generated electrical energy.

As of January 2017, the U.S. nameplate generating capacity for wind power was 82,183 megawatts (MW). This capacity is exceeded only by China and the European Union. Thus far, wind power’s largest growth in capacity was in 2012, when 11,895 MW of wind power was installed, representing 26.5% of new power capacity.

In 2016, Nebraska became the eighteenth state to have installed over 1,000 MW of wind power capacity. Texas, with over 20,000 MW of capacity, had the most installed wind power capacity of any U.S. state at the end of 2016. Texas also had more under construction than any other state currently has installed.

The state generating the highest percentage of energy from wind power is Iowa. North Dakota has the most per capita wind generation. The Alta Wind Energy Center in California is the largest wind farm in the United States with a capacity of 1548 MW. GE Energy is the largest domestic wind turbine manufacturer.

From 1974 through the mid-1980s the United States government worked with industry to advance the technology and enable large commercial wind turbines. A series of NASA wind turbines were developed under a program to create a utility-scale wind turbine industry in the U.S., with funding from the National Science Foundation and later the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

A total of 13 experimental wind turbines were put into operation, in four major wind turbine designs. This research and development program pioneered many of the multi-megawatt turbine technologies in use today, including: steel tube towers, variable-speed generators, composite blade materials, partial-span pitch control, as well as aerodynamic, structural, and acoustic engineering design capabilities.

Fourteen states now have 10 percent or more of their generation coming from wind power. Most of these are in the central plains. These states include North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Maine, Vermont, Oregon, and Idaho.