Land-Based Wind Market Report: 2021 Edition

Publication Type

Report

Date Published

08/2021

Abstract

The U.S. Department of Energy's 2021 edition of its land-based wind market report provides an overview of key trends in the U.S. wind power market, with a focus on 2020. You can find a report, data file and presentation on the Files tab, below. Additionally, several data visualizations are available on the Visualizations tab. Highlights of this year’s update include:

  • Wind comprises a growing share of electricity supply: U.S. wind power capacity grew at a record pace in 2020, with $25 billion invested in 16.8 GW of capacity. Wind energy output rose to account for more than 8% of the entire nation’s electricity supply, and is more than 20% in 10 states. At least 209 GW of wind are seeking transmission interconnection; 61 GW of this capacity are offshore wind and 13 GW are hybrid plants that pair wind with storage or PV.
  • Wind project performance has increased over time: The average capacity factor among recently built projects was over 40%, considerably higher than projects built earlier. The highest capacity factors are seen in the interior ‘wind belt’ of the country.
  • Turbines continue to get larger: Improved plant performance has been driven by larger turbines mounted on taller towers and featuring longer blades. In 2010, no turbines employed blades that were 115 meters in diameter or larger, but in 2020, 91% of newly installed turbines featured such rotors. Proposed projects indicate that total turbine height will continue to rise.
  • Low wind turbine pricing has pushed down installed project costs over the last decade: Wind turbine prices are averaging $775–$850/kW. The average installed cost of wind projects in 2020 was $1,460/kW, down more than 40% since the peak in 2010, though stable for the last three years. The lowest costs were found in Texas and the (non-ISO) West.
  • Wind energy prices remain low, around $20/MWh in the interior of the country: After topping out at $70/MWh for power purchase agreements (PPAs) executed in 2009, the national average price of wind PPAs has dropped. In the interior ‘wind belt’ of the country, recent pricing is around $20/MWh. In the West and East, prices tend to average $30/MWh or more. These prices, which are possible in part due to federal tax support, fall below the projected future fuel costs of gas-fired generation.
  • Wind PPA prices are often attractive compared to wind’s grid-system market value: The value of wind in wholesale power markets is affected by the location of wind plants, their hourly output profiles, and how those characteristics correlate with real-time electricity prices and capacity markets. The market value of wind declined in 2020, following natural gas prices lower and averaging under $15/MWh in ERCOT, MISO, NYISO and SPP; higher values were seen in CAISO, ISO-NE and PJM.
  • The average levelized cost of wind energy is down to $33/MWh: Levelized costs, which exclude the impacts of federal tax incentives, vary across time and geography, but the national average stood at $33/MWh in 2020—down substantially historically, though consistent with the previous two years. Levelized costs were lowest in ERCOT, SPP, and the (non-ISO) West.
  • The health and climate benefits of wind in 2020 were larger than its grid-system value, and the combination of all three far exceeds the current levelized cost of wind: Wind generation reduces power-sector emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. These reductions, in turn, provide public health and climate benefits that vary regionally, but together are economically valued at an average of $76/MWh-wind nationwide in 2020.
  • The domestic supply chain for wind equipment is diverse: For wind projects recently installed in the U.S., domestically manufactured content is highest for nacelle assembly (>85%), towers (60-75%), and blades and hubs (30-50%), but is much lower for most components internal to the nacelle.

Year of Publication

2021