How Far Are We From Phasing Out Coal?

Mapping US Wind Energy by State

Wind power is the most productive renewable energy source in the US, generating nearly half of America’s renewable energy.

But wind doesn’t blow fairly across the nation, so which states are contributing the most to US wind energy generation?

This map uses data from the EIA to show how much wind electricity different US states generate, and breaks down wind’s share of total electricity generation in top wind power producing states.

Wind Electricity Generation by State Compared

America’s wind energy generating states are all primarily located in the Central and Midwest regions of the nation, where wind speeds are highest and most consistent.

Texas is the runaway leader in the wind, generating over 92 Terawatt-hours of electricity during a year, more than the next three top states (Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas) combined. While Texas is the top generator in terms of wind-powered electricity, wind only makes up 20% of the state’s total electricity generation.

State Wind Electricity Generation (Terawatt hours) Wind’s Share of Net Electricity Generation
Texas 92.9TWh 20%
Iowa 34.1 TWh 58%
Oklahoma 29.6 TWh 35%
Kansas 23.5TWh 43%
Illinois 17.1TWh 10%
California 13.6TWh 7%
north dakota 13.2TWh 31%
Colorado 12.7TWh 23%
Minnesota 12.2TWh 22%
Nebraska 8.7TWh 24%

Data from Feb 2020-Feb 2021
Source: EIA

Meanwhile, wind makes up a much larger share of net electricity generation in states like Iowa (58%), Oklahoma (35%), and Kansas (43%). For both Iowa and Kansas, wind is the primary energy source of in-state electricity generation after overtaking coal in 2019.

The US also has 10 states with no wind power generating facilities, all primarily located in the Southeast region.

How Does Wind Energy Work?

Humans have been harnessing wind power for millennia, with windmills originally relying on wind to pump water or mill flour.

Today’s wind turbines work similarly, with their large blades generating electricity as wind causes them to rotate. As these blades are pushed by the wind, a connected internal shaft that is attached to an electric generator also turns and generates electricity.

Wind power is one of the safest sources of energy and relies on one key factor: wind speeds. When analyzing minimum wind speeds for economic viability in a given location, the following annual average wind speeds are needed:

  • Small wind turbines: Minimum of 4 meters per second (9 miles per hour)
  • Utility-scale wind turbines: Minimum of 5.8 meters per second (13 miles per hour)

Source: EIA

Unsurprisingly, the majority of America’s onshore wind turbine infrastructure is located in the middle of the nation, where wind speeds are highest.

Growing America’s Wind Turbine Capacity

While wind energy only made up 0.2% of US electricity generating capacity in 1990, it is now essential for the clean energy transition. Today, wind power makes up more than 10% of US electricity generating capacity, and this share is set to continue growing.

Record-breaking wind turbine installations in 2020 and 2021, primarily in the Central and Midwest regions, have increased US wind energy generation by 30% to 135.1 GW.

In 2020, the US increased wind turbine capacity by 14.2 gigawatts, followed by another 17.1 gigawatts in 2021. This year is set to see another 7.6 GW come online, with around half of 2022’s added capacity located in Texas.

After two years of record-breaking wind turbine installations, 2021’s expiration of the US production tax credit is likely to dampen the rate of future installations.

Leave a Comment