The U.S. added more new energy capacity from wind than any other source last year, and Texas was at the forefront of that trend.
In all, 42% of new electricity generation capacity in the U.S. last year came from land-based wind energy — more than from any other source. That’s according to data in a series of reports released this week by the U.S. Department of Energy.
By contrast, solar amounted to only 38% of new capacity last year.
Texas, the nation’s leader in wind capacity, played no small role in those data, as construction for wind energy in the Lone State hit an all-time high.
Texas installed the most land-based wind capacity in 2020, with 4,137 megawatts. The state’s total capacity now stands at 32,686 MW, and nearly 20% of its electricity now comes from wind.
Patrick Gilman, Program Manager for Wind Energy Technologies in the energy department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said Texas remains a low-cost market and is able to attract growth because it has increased its transmission capacity in recent years.
The energy department’s reports also said prices for wind turbines have sharply declined, from $1,800 per kilowatt in 2008 to $770 to $850 per kW today.
Fossil fuel demand dove in 2020. It just wasn’t a problem at the Port of Corpus Christi
Texas sees big wins from wind
Make no mistake about it: Texas is still king when it comes to crude oil production. Roughly 4.8 million barrels of crude were produced in the state in June, much of it coming from its rich Eagle Ford and Permian basins.
However, the state also is by far the nation’s leader in both installed and under-construction wind capacity, with nearly four dozen active manufacturing facilities — four times as many as second-place Iowa.
Among the latest projects is the first Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation vessel, which is being built in Brownsville.
The energy department estimates nearly $3 billion of wind-specific equipment flowed into Texas during 2020, making the state a dominant entry point for wind imports.
- Wind power capacity grew at a record pace in 2020, with 16,836 megawatts of new capacity added in the United States and $24.6 billion invested.
- The U.S. offshore wind energy pipeline grew 24% over the past year, with 35,324 MW of capacity across 39 projects in various stages of development.
- The Biden administration’s target of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 is expected to generate more than $12 billion per year in capital investment while creating tens of thousands of domestic jobs.
- U.S. distributed wind capacity now stands at 1,055 MW from over 87,000 wind turbines across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.
Top players in Texas’ wind game
Roscoe Wind Farm
- About 45 miles southwest of Abilene.
- It’s the world’s third-largest wind farm, made up of 627 turbines that sit on 250 square miles of farm land.
- Built in phases from 2007-09. Became operational in October 2009.
- Owner: E.ON Climate & Renewables
- Capacity: 781.5 MW
Horse Hollow Wind Energy Centre
- Located in Taylor and Nolan counties.
- Covering 47,000 acres, this wind farm is the fourth largest in the world.
- Constructed during 2005-06.
- Owner: NextEra Energy Resources.
- Capacity: 735.5 MW.
Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm
- Operating in Sterling and Coke counties.
- It is the fifth largest wind farm in the world.
- Owner: NextEra Energy Resources.
- Capacity: 662.5 MW.
Sweetwater Wind Farm
- Located in Nolan County.
- Owners: Duke Energy and Infigen Energy. Currently ranks as the the world’s ninth largest wind farm.
- It was built over five phases from 2003-07
- Consists of total 392 turbines.
- Capacity: 585 MW
Buffalo Gap Wind Farm
- Operating in Nolan and Taylor counties.
- Built in phases from 2006-08
- Owner: AES Wind Generation
- Capacity: 523.3 MW
What exactly is a watt?
It’s not like the realm of oil and gas, where you deal with barrels and cubic feet. A watt is a power measurement. It measures the rate at which energy flows, or how fast electrons move. So it helps to think of it more as the miles-per-hour measurement of the electrical world.
- A 60-watt lightbulb will consume electricity at a rate of 60 watts.
- One horsepower is the equivalent to 750 watts; your average mid-sized car in the U.S. is 170-190 hp, though horsepower for high-performing pickups can be 275-300.
- One kilowatt is 1,000 watts. A megawatt is 1 million watts – which is enough to power roughly 200 homes.
Chris Ramirez writes about energy, commerce and all things business. Support local coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe