Wind surpasses hydro as largest U.S. renewable energy source

Wind surpasses hydro as largest U.S. renewable energy source

Wind energy has surpassed hydropower as the biggest source of renewable electricity in the United States following the sector’s second-biggest quarter ever for new installations, a wind industry trade group said on Thursday.

Wind installations totaled 82,183 megawatts at the end of 2016, enough to power 24 million homes, the American Wind Energy Association said in its fourth-quarter market report.

By comparison, U.S. hydroelectric capacity stands at about 80,000 megawatts, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

Wind installations soared to 6,478 MW in the fourth quarter, accounting for nearly 80 percent of all of last year’s wind installations. The fourth quarter was the industry’s largest for installed capacity since the fourth quarter of 2012.

The 8,303 MW added for the year represented more than $13.8 billion in investment.

Just three turbine makers – General Electric Co, Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Siemens AG — accounted for up to 95 percent of the U.S. turbine market in 2016.

Texas has more than 20 MW of installed wind capacity, or nearly a quarter of the market. Iowa is the second-biggest wind state, and Oklahoma overtook California for third place at the end of 2016.

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