Aug 14, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Wind power is winning in the U.S. despite Trump's critiques

Data: U.S. Department of Energy; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Trump used a speech at a Shell petrochemicals plant in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to revive his attacks against wind energy, but his speech came just days after Department of Energy's latest major analysis of wind technology trends.

Why it matters: The timing of the president's speech clashed with the report, which underscored why wind has become an increasingly competitive resource.

  • The president inaccurately bashed "windmills that destroy everybody’s property values, kill all the birds."
  • He also claimed that wind's intermittency is causing power outages, which fails to consider that wind is part of a wider resource mix.

What they found: Here are a few big-picture highlights from the granular report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analysts...

  • New wind power capacity additions were "robust" last year, totaling nearly 7,600 megawatts.
  • Investment in new plants was $11 billion, and there's more bang for the buck. The average per-kilowatt installed cost of wind projects is 40% lower than 2009–2010.
  • Wind power prices are lower than ever. Power purchase deals they analyzed show an average cost below 2¢/kWh, which is less than a third of 2009 prices.
  • Wind now provides 6.5% of U.S. power, and it's over 30% in Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma.
  • The chart above shows how the industry has moved to bigger and more powerful designs. The average capacity for newly installed turbines is 239% higher than it was 20 years ago.

Yes, but: That doesn't mean wind isn't facing hurdles. Per DOE, the looming phaseout of federal tax credits for new projects is expected to slow the rate of project growth starting in 2021. Other challenges, per the report...

"Expectations for continued low natural gas prices and modest electricity demand growth also put a damper on growth expectations, as do limited transmission infrastructure and competition from natural gas and — increasingly — solar energy."

Go deeper: How renewable energy can boost Rust Belt health outcomes

Go deeper