Wind Power Surpasses Nuclear, Coal in US

Last month, wind power in the United States hit a new milestone. Wind turbines produced more electricity than nuclear and coal on March 29, 2022, coming second only to natural gas. This is per data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In the U.S., wind speeds and wind-powered electricity generation usually peaks during the spring. The variation of wind speed contributes to different amounts of electricity generation, depending on the season or time of day. On this particular day, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the Southwest Power Pool cover parts of South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and other states; both recorded new records of wind penetration.

Wind penetration refers to the share of electricity demand, which was satisfied by electricity generation.

Data shows that the lower 48 states produced roughly 2,016 gigawatthours of electricity on this particular day. Wind-powered electricity has, in the past, surpassed coal and nuclear on different days. However, this was the first time it went beyond both on the same day.

This increase will be short-lived, however, with the agency noting that wind-generated electricity is still lower than electricity generated from nuclear, coal and natural gas on a month basis. The increase comes after new wind installations dropped last year with the industry facing various challenges, including global trade barriers, logistics logjams and supply chain headwinds.

However, this isn’t the only area of the market to face supply chain headwinds, with more than 11GW of solar, wind and battery-storage projects being delayed last year. In 2020, more than 16,800 megawatts of wind capacity in the country was installed.

Additionally, projections from the Energy Information Administration highlight that wind is not expected to outdo any other electricity generation method for the rest of this year or even next year, so investors in coal mining companies such as Peabody Energy Corporation (NYSE: BTU) can rest safe in the knowledge that it isn’t yet doom for coal. The administration gathers energy statistics for the government.

Wind currently provides more than 10% of electricity in 16 states and more than 30% in North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.

Improvements in the performance and cost of wind-power technologies, coupled with production tax credit, have driven capacity additions for wind energy and helped yield low-price wind energy. Additionally, wind turbines have continued growing in power and size, with nameplate capacity of wind turbine that have recently been installed increasing by 8% from 2019 and more than 280% since 1999.

The combined climate, health and grid-system benefits of wind are more than twice its levelized cost of energy, but natural gas still remains the biggest source of electricity in the U.S.

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