US installs more than 7,000 MW of wind in 2017: AWEA

Houston (Platts)--30 Jan 2018 530 pm EST/2230 GMT

With the continued help of the production tax credit, developers in the US installed 7,017 MW of new wind capacity in 2017, bringing the country's total to 89,077 MW, the American Wind Energy Association reported Tuesday.

"New wind power capacity in 2017 represented $11 billion in private investment," said Amy Farrell, AWEA's senior vice president of government and public affairs.

The 2015 production tax credit, or PTC, phaseout that was reaffirmed in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has "created policy stability that the wind industry is now putting to work by scaling up investments," Farrell said. "As we complete the orderly PTC phaseout we are seeing continued innovation and cost reduction -- with a 66% reduction in wind costs since 2009 and further innovation and savings expected."

In its fourth quarter and 2017 market report, AWEA said there was 2,136 MW of existing wind capacity that underwent what it called "partial repowerings" in 2017. The author of the report, AWEA senior analyst Hanna Hunt, said she expects partial repowering "to accelerate in the near term."

The report said Texas and Oklahoma, which surpassed Iowa in terms of total wind capacity installed at the end of 2017, are now considered the heartland of wind. Texas now has 22,637 of installed wind, while Oklahoma has 7,495 MW. The 30,132 MW of their combined installed wind represents 33.8% of the country's total. In Q4 2017, there was 4,125 MW of new wind installed across the country. In the quarter, Texas led with 1,179 MW installed, followed by Oklahoma with 851 MW, Iowa with 334 MW, Illinois 306 MW, and Missouri 300 MW. AWEA noted that wind developers have reported 13,332 MW of wind capacity currently under construction and 15,336 MW in advanced development, a 34% year-on-year increase. It said that there were 5,393 MW of new projects announced just in Q4 alone. The report said that 4,143 MW, or 31% of the capacity now under construction is located in Texas. It said there is 3,000 MW are under construction in Wyoming, 1,366 MW in Oklahoma, 736 MW in Iowa and 702 MW under construction in Nebraska. PPAS SIGNED IN 2017 UP 29%

"Demand from utilities is high," said report author Hunt.

In 2017 there were PPAs signed for 5,496 MW of capacity, a 29% year-on-year increase. Electric utilities signed 60%, or 3,317 MW, of the capacity contracted for in 2017, with PPA's for over 1,500 MW signed in Q1. "Utilities announced plans to develop and own 4,190 MW of rate-based capacity in 2017," the report said.

The report pointed to Xcel Energy, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Alliant Energy as the top three utilities with "wind capacity currently under construction or in advanced development."

Corporate and non-utility entities signed 40% of the PPAs signed in 2017, for a total of 2,178 MW capacity. While this annual total was "similar to the 39% share captured in 2016," the report said that in Q4 this group signed "all 710 MW of PPAs announced."

AWEA noted that Google Energy signed four PPAs during the Q4 for a total of 536 MW. The report said that corporate and other non-utility customers "have signed more than 7,100 MW of PPAs to date." THREE COMPANIES COMPLETE PARTIAL REPOWERINGS For the first time AWEA included repowering data in its quarterly market report.

It said that in 2017 NextEra Energy Resources completed 1,591 MW of partial repowerments, while MidAmerican Energy completed 408 MW and Leeward Renewable Energy completed 136 MW of partial repowerments.

AWEA defined partial wind turbine repowerings as "either a nacelle replacement, meaning the replacement of all major turbine components other than the tower and foundation, or a major retrofit, which entails the replacement of the rotor and blades and at least one major internal nacelle component."

"In total, the U.S. wind industry completed 2,136 MW of partial repowerings across 15 project phases during 2017," the report said.

It said that in all partial repowerings the turbine's rotor and blades were replaced. "Rotor diameters increased by an average of [about] 13 meters, or 16%, as a result of partial repowering, where data were available." It noted that all the original turbines that were repowered had been deployed between 2003 and 2008, with an average turbine age of 11 years. VESTAS SUPPLIED 35% OF 2017 US MARKET

There are now 54,000 wind turbines in the US that are installed onshore. There are just five that are offshore, Hunt noted.

Looking at turbine manufacturers, the AWEA report said that four companies -- GE Renewable Energy, Nordex USA, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and Vestas -- met 99% of the demand for turbines in 2017. Of the 7,017 MW commissioned in 2017, Vestas had a 35% market share, followed by GE with 29%, Siemens Gamesa with 23% and Nordex 11%. "Vestas led in annual market share for the second straight year, after ending GE Renewable Energy's 13-year streak in 2016," AWEA said. -- Jeffrey Ryser,

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson,

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