New information released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Thursday showed that the amount of wind power generated in several states decreased in 2015, sometimes by double digits. But as usual, context is everything. The nation’s installed wind capacity rose by 12.9% last year, higher than in both preceding years. The crucial difference here is how strong the winds are blowing, a factor beyond our control.
The power generated from wind turbines in the U.S. grew by 5.1% in 2015, the smallest annual increase since at least 1999. The explanation lies with weather patterns in the West, which lowered wind speeds and thus curbed wind generation during the first half of the year. However, those same weather patterns resulted in stronger winds in the central part of the country, which saw the biggest increases. These variations are typical, and nothing to be alarmed at.
Overall, 2015 was a “stellar” year, as the Global Wind Energy Council said in its annual report released this week on wind power around the world. China accounted for nearly half of global growth in wind capacity (30.8GW out of 63GW), and total capacity rose 17% worldwide to 433GW. Collectively, wind turbines supplied more new power generation than any other technology in 2015, a remarkable feat.
Blouin News has previously covered the growth of wind around the world, including in Uruguay, India, and the U.S. While solar gets most of the hype, wind is the real workhorse of clean energy – for now at least.
For more on clean energy, check out the 2015 BCLS panel Sustainable solutions to the global energy crisis.