State of the Facts
Congress recently passed the $737 billion Inflation Reduction Act bill that includes some provisions to address the climate change issue. The bill currently includes over $30 billion in incentives for companies to build wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries. It also includes long-term wind and solar tax credits that are aimed to expand the US’s renewable energy production capacity.
The incentives in the bill could further accelerate the wind energy industry. In 2021, the US produced 63 times as many kilowatt-hours of electricity from wind turbines as it did in 2000. An average of 3,000 turbines were installed every year across the US since 2005. It’s now the nation’s leading renewable electricity source.
In 2021, wind farms generated 9.2% of electricity in the US, according to the US Energy Information Administration(EIA). In total, renewable energy sources contribute 20% of electricity in the US. The leading source of electricity generation is natural gas, which produces almost twice as much electricity as all renewables combined (38%).
The average wind turbine generates enough electricity in 46 minutes to power the average US home for one month. Given that wind turbines aren’t constantly generating energy due to variable wind patterns, the average wind turbine produces enough power to cover the monthly electricity needs of 940 homes every month.
Wind farms are typically located in more rural areas. All US wind farms were located on land until 2016, when the first offshore wind project was started in Rhode Island. In addition to existing offshore wind projects in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Rhode Island, there are 15 other projects that have received permits, eight states that have set wind energy procurement goals and several states that have established task forces to explore the possibility.
The average wind farm has about 50 turbines. The nation’s largest wind farm has 586 turbines and is in central California.
Wind farms generate an average of 506,000 MWh a year, according to data from the US Geological Survey (USGS).
As of April 2022, there are more than 71,666 wind turbines in the US, according to the US Wind Turbine Database maintained by the USGS. These turbines were all built in the last 40 years. About 1,500 wind power projects were built in that time, extending across at least 44 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Guam. Since 2005, an average of 3,000 turbines have been installed every year across the US.
Wind turbines are concentrated in the Midwest and Texas due to favorable wind patterns in the area. More than half of the nation's wind capacity is in five states: Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, and California. Texas alone accounts for almost a quarter of all US wind capacity.
Learn more about renewable energy with the USAFacts State of the Earth report. Find out how much the climate has changed in your area with the USAFacts Climate in the United States feature.
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