Hydroelectric, Renewables, Wind

Wind Capacity Surpasses Hydroelectric for the First Time

By Editors of Power Engineering

Though hydroelectricity has long been the top renewable source of generation in the United States, a new report indicates wind generation has surpassed it – at least in terms of capacity.

Though the Energy Information Administration reported hydroelectric capacity at 78,956 MW in 2015, the American Wind Energy Association reported wind generation reached 82,183 MW in 2016, making it the top renewable in terms of capacity and the fourth-largest generation source overall.

However, the New York Times reported hydroelectric could still lead in terms of electricity produced, as EIA’s 2015 report states hydroelectric generation outpaced wind generation by 30 percent.

The American Wind Energy Association report noted there are now 52,000 wind turbines in operation in 41 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. The wind sector now employs 100,000, more than nuclear, natural gas, coal or hydroelectric.

New wind capacity added in the fourth quarter of 2016 reached 6,478 MW, the second-highest quarter on record. The year as a whole experienced 8,203 MW of wind power capacity at a cost of $13.8 billion.

Texas remains the leader in wind generation, as the state has three times the capacity of any other state as well as a quarter of all American wind jobs. Texas accounted for 1,790 MW of new capacity in the fourth quarter of 2016, with another 5,401 MW under construction and 1,288 in advanced development.