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August 10, 2017

Maine ranks in Top 10 nationally in installed wind energy capacity

Maine ranked 8th nationally in annual installed wind energy capacity in 2016, according to a group of studies released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The state added 288 megawatts of utility-scale wind last year.

The three wind market reports highlight advancements in the U.S. wind industry's land-based utility, offshore and sectors.

Overall, America's wind industry added more than 8,200 MW of capacity last year, representing 27% of all energy capacity additions in 2016. Fourteen states now get more than 10% of their electricity from wind, with Maine ranking 10th in in-state generation of electricity from wind power at 13.9%.

"The wind industry continues to install significant amounts of new capacity, and supplied about 6% of total U.S. electricity in 2016," Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons said in a written statement. "As our reports explain, a combination of federal subsidies, state mandates and technological advancements continue to help drive new wind capacity additions."

The report noted that wind additions have also been driven by improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies, yielding low power sales prices for utility, corporate and other purchasers. At the same time, the prospects for growth beyond the current production tax credit or PTC cycle remain uncertain, given declining federal tax support, expectations for low natural gas prices and modest electricity demand growth, it noted.

Wind blows strong in Maine

Key findings from the "2016 Wind Technologies Market Report" by the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California are:

Utility-scale wind installations stand at more than 82 GW, enough to meet about 6.2% of U.S. end-use electricity demand in an average year.

In total, 40 states and Puerto Rico operated utility-scale wind projects in 2016; utility-scale wind came online in North Carolina in early 2017.

Maine ranked 8th nationwide in annual installed capacity for 2016, with 288 MW of utility-scale wind added last year.

The report also finds that wind energy continues to be sold at attractive prices through power purchase agreements, making this renewable energy source cost-competitive with traditional power sources such as natural gas in many parts of the country, especially when wind energy is sold at a fixed price over 20 years.

Maine is one of 14 states that produced more than 10% of in-state electricity generation from wind in 2016; Maine gets 13.9% of its electricity, or almost 1 out of every 7 kilowatts, from wind.

Wind energy currently supports a total of 101,738 jobs related to project development, siting, turbine manufacturing, transportation and other sectors, an increase of 32% from 2015 to 2016.

Mainebiz reported in April 2016 that the need for clean energy, along with the high cost of energy and need for clean energy in New England states, is spurring wind farm development in Maine, along with opposition from both residents and groups like Friends of Maine's Mountains about the tradeoffs of placing industrial-scale wind farms in some of Maine's most scenic locations.

Aqua Ventus project moves forward

Key findings from the 2016 Offshore Wind Technologies Market Report by the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory are:

In December 2016, Deepwater Wind completed the commissioning of the Block Island Wind Farm, marking a milestone as the first commercial offshore wind project in the country.

The U.S. offshore wind project development pipeline includes over 20 projects totaling 24,135 MW of potential installed capacity. Most of the near-term activity is concentrated in the Atlantic off the Northeast coast, but projects have been proposed in the Southeast Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.

Of the U.S. projects in deeper waters, where traditional bottom-mounted technologies are not feasible, proposed floating offshore wind projects now total 1,993 MW of announced capacity.

The 12-MW Aqua Ventus I project led by the University of Maine has received $10.7 million in DOE funding, and will be considered for additional funding from DOE after meeting specific milestones. The project has an agreement to sell its power to Central Maine Power.

Mainebiz reported in June that offshore wind development is advancing while onshore wind development is slow by comparison.

Distributed power takes hold

Key findings from the 2016 Distributed Wind Market Report by the DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory:

Compared with traditional, centralized power plants, which send power over transmission lines to distant end-users, distributed wind energy installation supply power directly to homes, farms, businesses and communities. In total, U.S. wind turbines in distributed applications reached a cumulative installed capacity of 992 MW.

This capacity comes from roughly 77,000 turbines installed across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Turbines used in these applications can range from a few hundred watts to several megawatts. This helps power remote, off-grid homes and farms, as well as local schools and manufacturing facilities.

U.S. manufacturers continued to dominate domestic sales of small wind turbines (up through 100 kilowatts), and half of U.S. small wind turbine manufacturers also export their products to other countries.

Between 2014 and 2016, U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers accounted for more than $240 million in small wind turbine export sales.

Mainebiz reported on distributed energy parts maker Peregrine Turbine Technologies of Wiscasset, which received a $50,000 Maine Technology Institute Business Accelerator grant in February 2016 leveraged by a $1,432,357 matching contribution.

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