For the first time in history, wind power was the country’s second largest source of electricity for an entire day.
This is according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) Hourly monitoring of the electrical networkwhich on March 29 spotted wind power overtaking both coal and nuclear power generation to become the leading energy source in the United States, second only to natural gas.
Wind turbines in the lower 48 states produced 2,017 gigawatt hours of electricity that day, or 19% of the total energy generated, beating nuclear by a hair’s breadth and coal by 2%. Natural gas represented 31% of the electricity produced.
The EIA attributes the breaking records for wind generation to a steady growth in wind energy as a whole across the United States. The number of onshore wind turbines in the country has exploded in recent years. In 2021, wind represented 42% of the new energy installed in the country, which is equivalent to additional capacity added to the network than any other source of energy. In 2000, electricity production from wind power amounted to approximately 6 billion kilowatt hours; in 2021, it amounted to 380 billion.
But the timing of the wind penetration event was also no coincidence, the EIA stated in a press release. Wind speeds tend to be higher in the spring, and, amid milder temperatures, power demand tends to decrease overall, so nuclear and coal-fired generators tend to reduce output during warmer months. This allows the wind to overpower both energy sources.
March 29 was the first time wind generation beat all other energy sources except gas for an entire day – in spring 2021, it happened for an hour. The EIA cautiously notes that wind is unlikely to beat other energy sources for as long as a month in 2022 or 2023, but this achievement is still a sign of a booming industry.