U.S. Keeps Adding Wind Turbines

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U.S. Keeps Adding Wind Turbines
Bakersfield Wind Farm California © garytog

The United States’ wind power capacity grew 16% in 2020 to 122,468 megawatts, according to a market report by a national trade association that represents the renewable energy industry in the U.S.

At the end of 2020, more than 60,000 wind turbines operated across 41 states and two U.S. territories, the American Clean Power Association said in its fourth quarter 2020 market report.

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According to the report, Texas leads the nation with 33,133 MW of operational wind power capacity, followed by Iowa at 11,660 MW and Oklahoma with 9,048 MW. Rounding out the top 10 states in wind power capacity are Kansas (7,016 MW), Illinois (6,409 MW), California (5,922 MW), Colorado (4,692 MW), Minnesota (4,299 MW), North Dakota (3,989 MW) and Oregon (3,737 MW).

The industry added 90 projects across 26 states to its pipeline in 2020. Those projects have a combined capacity of 16,913 MW – 85% more than the collection of projects that entered the pipeline in 2019. Texas had the largest share of capacity in 2020 projects at 4,235 MW, followed by Iowa’s 1,498 MW, Wyoming with 1,123 MW, Illinois with 1,059 MW and Missouri with 1,028 MW.

NextEra Energy added the most new capacity of any company last year, bringing online 13 wind projects totaling 2,898 MW. Xcel Energy delivered five projects totaling 1,420 MW, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy added 1,162 MW. Rounding out the top five were Engie with 1,108 MW and RWE Renewables with 720 MW.

The association estimated that at the end of 2020, 34,757 MW of wind capacity was in the near-term pipeline, including 17,302 MW under construction and 17,445 MW in advanced development. Texas led with 13% of the pipeline, followed by Wyoming at 10%, Oklahoma with 7%, Kansas at 5% and New Mexico with 4%.

Among turbine manufacturers, GE Renewable Energy supplied the greatest share of new units in 2020, capturing 53% of new installations. Vestas ranked second with 35% of installations, followed by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy with 10%. Nordex USA represented the remaining 3%.

Seventy-one percent of turbines installed last year have capacity between 2 MW and 3 MW, while about 28% are rated over 3 MW.

Gear oils account for the majority of lubricants used in wind turbines, followed by hydraulic fluids and greases.

Gear oil is used for wind turbine gearboxes, which are eliminated in some newer direct drive turbines. Hydraulic fluid is used in the hydraulic systems that control the pitch – the angle of the blades in relation to the wind. Grease is used in several wind turbine locations: the main rotor shaft bearing; the yaw bearing, pitch or blade bearings; pitch drive gears; and generator bearings.

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