2020 was a tremendous year for the wind energy industry, with record levels of wind farm commissioning, especially in the fourth quarter. Fully 16.9 GW of wind power was connected to the grid last year. In the fourth quarter alone, the amount of new grid-connected wind power exceeded any previous full year, except for 2012. 10.6 GW was connected in the fourth quarter – more than half the year’s total.
According to the fourth-quarter report of the American Clean Power Association (ACP), the U.S. now has 122.4 GW of operational wind capacity.
The results from 2020 indicate high demand for wind power, along with significant technological improvements. They may also show developers rushing to connect up projects to the grid before the end of the year in order to take advantage of tax incentives.
“Despite all the challenges Covid-19 placed on our businesses,” said the CEO of the ACP, “we still shattered nearly every record for capacity and growth.”
Texas was the No. 1 state for wind energy commissioning last year, although the highest proportion of the capacity growth was in federal waters. Capacity was added in 26 states, and 11 states still have over 1 GW in the near-term pipeline, says Windpower Monthly.
Some challenges to continued growth exist
With record-breaking increases in capacity even during the pandemic, it looks like wind power developers will have an easy road to even more capacity in the near term. However, they report challenges raising tax equity for projects because of economic uncertainty due to the pandemic, tighter lending standards and constraints on tax equity supply.
Power purchase agreements are also down due to pandemic uncertainty. Across the whole of 2020, there was 5,444 MW of new PPAs announced, which is lower than last year’s total.
Still, demand for renewable energy continues to be high as the nation tries to meet its climate goals.
If a wind energy company has contacted you about a lease, get legal advice
It’s tempting to become part of the wind energy revolution in Texas. Wind energy developers are actively seeking land to use for wind farms. They are contacting landowners in West Texas and eastern New Mexico with proposals to buy or lease their properties.
In some cases, energy companies have the power of eminent domain, as long as they are building a public project. That could mean they could force you to sell or lease some or all of your land for the project.
If an energy company has contacted you about a lease or purchase, talk to an attorney who has experience handling energy leases. Your lawyer can help ensure you get a good deal or just compensation for the taking of your land.