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US Wind to Exceed Hydropower in 2019 for First Time

Amazon Wind Farm in Texas (Credit: Amazon) Click to Enlarge.

The latest energy and electricity forecasts from the US government has predicted that wind energy will outperform hydropower for the first time, providing a greater share of the country’s electricity mix in 2019.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) published its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) on Tuesday, the first of its reports to include forecasts for 2020.  Amidst forecasts covering the entirety of the US energy industry, EIA analysts noted that they expect wind energy’s annual share of electricity generation to exceed that of the hydropower sector, the first time this will ever have happened in the United States.

Specifically, the EIA expects wind energy capacity to increase from 96 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2018 to 107 GW by the end of 2019, and 114 GW by the end of 2020.  This would equate to predictions of 11 GW added in 2019 and 7 GW added in 2020.

Worth noting is the impact the United States’ Production Tax Credit (PTC) will have on the country’s wind energy industry in the coming years.  Specifically, according to the EIA, “The build out of new wind capacity through 2020 is strongly affected by the phase-out of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind, which began with projects under construction starting after 2016.  Such projects take several years to complete, and the last tranche of projects eligible for the full $25 per megawatt-hour tax credit will start to enter service in significant numbers in 2019.  Activity will taper off in later years as projects started in 2016 approach the limit of their safe harbor provisions and as the construction pipeline begins to shrink, reflecting reduced PTC pay-offs for projects beginning construction in 2017 and later.”

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