U.S. Wind Power Installs Decrease

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The United States wind market installed 28% less wind capacity in 2023, compared to the prior year – the lowest year for such installations since 2014 – the American Clean Power Association said in its recently published 2023 market report, citing factors such as market saturation and changes in incentives and permitting.

The U.S. wind market installed 1,910 wind turbines last year, with a total 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. A megawatt is a unit of power equal to one million watts.

“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.”

The 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.

During the course of 2023, more than half of the new wind power capacity 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. A gigawatt is a unit of electric power equal to one billion watts.

According to the report, more than 6.4 GW of land-based wind power projects were added to the U.S. power grid last year. Texas had the most additions for the year, at 1,323 MW. It was 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 build in 2023, with 557 MW. Second largest was the 300 MW Seven Cowboy wind project in Oklahoma and the 266 MW Goodnight wind project in Texas.

American Clean Power noted that over the long haul, U.S. wind power capacity has still almost tripled in the last 10 years and as of the end of last year, was 36 times larger than it was 20 years ago.

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.

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