The U.S. installed a record amount of wind-generating capacity last year, adding nearly 17,000 megawatts of power on land, according to an Energy Department report being released Monday.
Wind energy’s share of total utility-scale generating capacity in the U.S. was only 11 percent in 2020, behind natural gas at 43 percent and nuclear and coal which both represented about 20 percent.
But wind is gaining: It accounted for 42 percent of all new capacity in 2020, which represented $24.6 billion in new wind power projects, according to the Energy Department study, which was conducted by the department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Solar was second, accounting for 38 percent of new capacity, followed by natural gas at about 20 percent. Overall, renewable energy comprised 80 percent of new capacity added last year. Utility scale measures energy that can be fed into a power grid.
“These reports contain such terrific news: the U.S. installed a record-breaking amount of land-based wind energy last year,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “They underscore both the progress made and the capacity for much more affordable wind power to come.”
President Joe Biden’s administration has laid out ambitious plans to increase renewable-energy use, and vowed to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2035 to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
Part of those plans is a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. The Interior Department announced Monday it was proceeding with an environmental review of a proposed 122-turbine project in federal waters off the coast of Montauk, N.Y.
“The Interior Department is committed to confronting climate change, creating thousands of good-paying jobs, and paving the way for the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. “Offshore wind is a critical component of that ambitious agenda.”