Wind power is a big deal these days—a bigger deal than you might realize. Last year, Iowa generated 31% of its power from wind resources, the most in the country. And several states, including South Dakota (25.5%) and Kansas (23.9%), were not far behind that number.
When people talk of how renewables are revolutionizing the electricity system, they tend to refer to solar power before wind power. But, for now, it’s wind in the ascendancy. Solar generated only about 1% of total electricity in the U.S. last year compared to wind’s 4.7% share. Perhaps solar’s greater visibility explains why we think it’s a bigger contributor than it is.
Having said that, wind is still a fairly regional trend. The Midwest has the most production, along with Northwestern states such as Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Texas is another big producer. It got 10% of its power from wind last year, and a lot more than that on some days. In December, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid—which covers three-quarters of the state—reported wind met 45% of demand at some points.
At the same time, there’s no wind production in the South, outside Texas and Oklahoma, and a tiny amount in Tennessee (in West Virginia, wind accounts for 1.9% of production). In New Jersey and Delaware, there’s barely any wind action at all. And Connecticut and North Carolina started putting up wind turbines only very recently (so recently, they don’t figure in the figures provided by the American Wind Energy Association).
But where there is wind, it’s working well. The windy states generated more electricity from wind than the entire power output of Georgia and Colorado combined. And the U.S. as a whole generated more wind power than any other country, China and Germany included. Hope you think wind turbines are a beautiful addition to the landscape, because there are going to be a lot more of them.