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Will Wind Energy Soon Be the New Renewable Energy Leader in the U.S.?

Wind energy is poised to be the new leader in renewable energy in the United States, according to the most recent estimates from the American Energy Information Administration (EIA). In the United States, ENGIE operates a portfolio of power and cogeneration plants where natural gas is more and more supplemented by renewable energy.

Hydroelectric power has long been the leader of the renewable energy sector in the United States, but new estimates from the EIA show that wind may soon be showing hydro some competition.

In 2017, wind energy accounted for about 6.3 percent of the total utility-scale electricity generation in the United States. But according to Short-Term Energy Outlook1, a new report by the EIA, this number could reach 6.4 percent in 2018 and 6.9 percent in 2019, thanks in part to additional wind installations to the tune of 8.3 GW in 2018 and 8 GW in 2019.

These planned installations are particularly interesting given the repercussions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the industry: the Act reduced tax benefits on renewable energy installations. But the current political climate has also proved encouraging to some: in New Jersey and New York, for example, developers are racing to develop wind energy projects. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy have asked the U.S. Department of the Interior for exemptions from offshore drilling, committing instead to offshore wind energy projects, the former aiming for 2,400 megawatts and the latter committing via a recent executive order to 3,500 megawatts by 2030.

“Our goal is to grow offshore wind in a way that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels,” Murphy said in a statement. “New Jersey is committed to growing our clean energy sector, and offshore wind is at the crux of increasing that part of our economy.”

The surge in wind energy can also be attributed, at least in part, to the fall of hydroelectric, historically one of the U.S.’s more prominent renewable energy sources, producing between 250 and 350 TWh per year since the 80s. The EIA estimates that this production will decrease by nearly 12 percent in 2018, due in part to the fact that few new hydro plants are expected to come online in the next two years and in part to weather projections showing 2018 will be a drier year than the relatively wet 2017.

Wind energy remains a mere fraction of the overall energy mix in the U.S.: according to the EIA, natural gas makes up 32 percent of the mix in 2017, coal 30 percent, nuclear 20 percent, and renewable 18 percent.

ENGIE at the Forefront of Making Renewable Energy Accessible

While renewable energy remains a minority – paling in comparison to natural gas and petroleum – a recent report published by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy shows that capacity has more than tripled since 2008, and EIA reports that nearly half of the new large-scale electric power plants installed last year – a total of about 25 GW – came from renewable energy sources2.

ENGIE’s presence in the United States, which includes the operation of a total capacity of about 11,500 MW of energy production, has included the development of energy storage systems to help further the U.S.’s ability to use all of the renewable energy it produces.

In October 2017, ENGIE announced the installation of a 3MW/6MWh energy storage system in Massachusetts in cooperation with Green Charge, an industry-leading battery storage company based in California in which ENGIE acquired an 80 percent majority stake in 2016.

The system, which was built adjacent to the former Mt. Tom Power Station, now Mt. Tom Solar, became the largest utility-scale energy storage installation in Massachusetts.

ENGIE is also working to clean up energy use by closing existing fossil fuel facilities, with a total of 6.9 billion euro in closed transactions since it announced this endeavor in 2016. In the U.S. alone, ENGIE has successfully closed the sale of 8.7 GW of gas-fired and coal-fired assets – proof of ENGIE’s commitment to massively invest in renewable energy.

1 Source : Short-Term Energy OUtlook EIA

2 Source : Popular Science

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