U.S. Wind Power Momentum Slows

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U.S. Wind Power Momentum Slows
Wind energy turbines amongst wheat fields in Texas. © Bert Templeton / shutterstock.com

Installation of new wind power capacity in the United States dropped 28% in 2023 to its lowest level since 2014, the American Clean Power Association said in its annual market report, citing factors such as market saturation and changes in incentives and permitting.

The market installed 1,910 wind turbines last year with a combined capacity of 6,402 megawatts, compared to 8,876 MW in 2022. The total newly installed capacity in 2023 also represented a 53% drop from 13,667 MW installed in 2021.

“Wind installations continue to be down due to market saturation in certain areas but also permitting and development delays in others,” the association said in the report. “Factors such as changes in incentives, fluctuations in costs and delays in permitting and regulatory approvals may have influenced the reduced number of commissioned wind projects.”

Cumulative operating wind power capacity rose to 150,455 MW at the end of 2023, 4% higher than 144,184 MW at the end of 2022.

More than half of the capacity added in 2023 came online during the fourth quarter. The association noted that similar to in 2022, little growth occurred in the second and third quarters of 2023, with less than a gigawatt added in each.

According to the report, more than 6.4 GW of land-based projects were added to the U.S. power grid last year. Texas had the most additions for the year, at 1,323 MW, followed by Illinois with 919 MW and Kansas at 838 MW. Rounding out the top four was New York at 557 MW.

The High Banks Wind project in Kansas was the largest wind project phase built in 2023 at 557 MW. Second- and third-largest were the 300 MW Seven Cowboy project in Oklahoma and the 266 MW Goodnight project in Texas.

American Clean Power noted that U.S. wind power capacity has almost tripled in the past 10 years and has increased 36-fold in the past 20.

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

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