U.S. Adds More Wind Turbines

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U.S. Adds More Wind Turbines
A large wind energy turbine farm in Palm Springs, California. © Kong Yew

Wind power generation capacity in the United States grew 10% in 2021 to 134,996 megawatts, but the amount added was less than the record high set in 2020, according to a market report by a national trade association that represents the renewable energy industry in the U.S.

The industry brought 61 land-based wind power projects online last year, the American Clean Power Association said in its fourth quarter 2021 market report. The projects have a combined capacity of 12,747 MW, down 25% from 16,913 MW in 2020, although that was an all-time high. Last year was the third-biggest year for U.S. wind installations after 2020 and nearly 14,000 MW in 2012.

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Land-based wind power in the project pipeline totaled 23,968 MW at the end of last year. According to the report, Texas leads in total land-based capacity in the pipeline with 6,145 MW. Wyoming has the second highest land-based wind capacity underway with 3,000 MW, followed by Illinois with just over 2,100 MW and Oklahoma’s 1,748 MW.

Offshore wind energy projects in the pipeline amounted to 17,458 MW at the end of 2021. The association explained that while most offshore wind projects are based in federal waters, the power from such projects will be delivered to multipole states along the East Coast. Based on state where power will be delivered, New York has the most offshore capacity in advanced development with 4,186 MW, followed by New Jersey at 3,758 MW, Massachusetts’ 3,242 MW and Virginia’s 2,587 MW.

States continue be the main drivers of offshore wind development in the United States, the association noted. In the first quarter of this year, Louisiana announced an offshore wind goal of 5 gigawatt installed by 2035 as part of the state’s first ever Climate Action Plan. To date, nine states have set offshore wind procurement targets totaling nearly 45 GW, or 44,593 MW.

The association began tracking hybrid power projects last year, including installations of 488 MW of hybrid projects featuring wind energy, solar power and battery power storage together. The U.S. has online 1,892 MW of hybrid capacity involving wind energy and battery storage, 752 MW of hybrid capacity for wind, solar and battery storage and 377 MW of wind and solar hybrid capacity. Texas has 1,114 MW of wind and storage hybrid capacity. Texas and New York are the only states with hybrid wind and battery power storage projects in development, while Texas is the only state with hybrid wind and solar power projects in the pipeline.

The majority of lubricants used in wind turbines are gear oils, followed by hydraulic fluids and greases.

Gear oil is used for wind turbine gearboxes, though they aren’t required 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.