The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Energy program targets innovations in onshore, offshore, and distributed wind power to capture the kinetic energy in wind and turn it into electricity via spinning generators. The program also works to integrate wind generation more effectively into the bulk power system to enable wind farms to provide more reliable power output and essential reliability services to the grid.

DOE’s Wind Energy program has contributed to substantial cost reductions and technology improvements that have enabled the rapid expansion of land-based wind power. The cost of energy from land-based wind power decreased from 55 cents per kilowatt-hour ($0.55/kWh) in 1980 to a national average for new wind projects built in 2018 of just $0.034/kWh, enabling the expansion of wind power to more than 40 states. Despite the economic contraction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, wind power installations reached a record of almost 17 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2020. Wind power now accounts for 8 percent of U.S. electricity generation, up from less than 1 percent a decade ago.

DOE should build on this success to improve performance and reduce costs much further until unsubsidized wind power becomes competitive across more parts of the country. DOE’s “Wind Vision” report provides a path to reducing the cost of energy from unsubsidized land-based wind to $0.023/kWh and achieving a 50 percent reduction from the 2017 level in the cost of energy from offshore and distributed wind by 2030. Achieving these goals could enable up to 200 gigawatts GW of total wind capacity by 2030, thereby contributing to energy affordability and security while also reducing carbon emissions.

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