Wind power is the most productive renewable energy source in the U.S., generating nearly half of America’s renewable energy.
But, as Visual Capitalist’s Niccolo Conte details below, wind doesn’t blow fairly across the nation, so which states are contributing the most to U.S. wind energy generation?
This map uses data from the EIA to show how much wind electricity different U.S. 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 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.
Data from Feb 2020-Feb 2021
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 U.S. 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)
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 U.S. electricity generating capacity in 1990, it is now essential for the clean energy transition. Today, wind power makes up more than 10% of U.S. 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 U.S. wind energy generation by 30% to 135.1 GW.
In 2020, the U.S. 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 U.S. production tax credit is likely to dampen the rate of future installations.