Top ten US states by wind energy capacity

Jack Unwin 15 April 2019 (Last Updated July 28th, 2020 11:54)

The US is the second largest producer of wind energy in the world, but output by state varies by factors including size, climate and policy. What are the top ten US states by wind energy capacity?

Top ten US states by wind energy capacity
Alta wind energy sector centre in California, the world’s second largest onshore wind farm. Credit: Z22

Despite President Donald Trump’s well-known hostility towards wind power and what he believes is it cancer-causing abilities* wind energy is a well-established source of power in the US.

In fact, the US is the second largest producer of wind energy in the world with an installed capacity of over 96GW, and it has six of the world’s top ten onshore windfarms. But progress still needs to be made as a number of states in the southeast from Arkansas to Florida don’t have any wind turbines installed at all.

US wind energy by state: Top ten

What are the ten largest producers of wind energy? Power-technology.com lists the top ten US states by wind energy capacity.

*Wind energy does not actually cause cancer.

Texas – installed capacity 24,899MW

Far and away the state leader of wind energy is Texas with a total installed capacity of 24,899MW, enough to power over six million homes.

The state’s largest wind farm is the Roscoe wind farm in Central Texas, which has 634 wind turbines at a capacity of 781.5MW which produce 2,174 GWh of electricity per year.

Texas’ growth in wind power in the early 2000s was due to former governor and current Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. Under his tenure, wind power surged from 116MW to over 11,000MW and $7bn was invested in a transmission scheme to connect renewable power to Texan cities.

Iowa – installed capacity 8,422MW

In a distant second place is Iowa with 8,422MW of installed capacity. The state has the largest percentage of its energy produced from wind in the US, with 37% of its electricity supply is generated from 4,637 turbines.

Iowa was the first state to adopt a renewable portfolio standard in 1983 when it ordered utility companies to own or contract 105MW of renewable energy. It is also the home of wind blade manufacturers Siemens and TPI Composites.

Republican Senator for Iowa Chuck Grassley is a strong supporter of the energy source, calling President Trump’s critical statements about wind energy ‘idiotic’

Oklahoma – installed capacity 8,072MW

In a state where the wind comes sweeping down the plain it is unsurprising that Oklahoma has a wind energy capacity of 8,072MW, placing it third in its share of electricity generated from wind with 31.9%.

Wind energy is an important part of Oklahoma’s energy needs despite the cancellation of the 2GW wind catcher windfarm on the Oklahoma-Texas border, which would have been the largest windfarm in the US when completed.

California – installed capacity 5,885MW

Despite being the most populous state in the Union, California is a distant fourth in terms of wind capacity. This may be due to the success of solar in the state; it leads in solar in the country. California is the only state that is in the top five for wind and solar.

California also has the current largest windfarm in the country, the Alta Wind Energy Centre. With a capacity of 1,548MW, it is also the second largest onshore windfarm in the world.

Last September California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to commit the state to 100% renewable energy by 2045.

Kansas – installed capacity 5,653MW

As Dorothy can attest, Kansas has strong wind potential and capacity with 5,653MW of power from nearly 3,000 turbines.

The state signed the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) into law in May 2009, which required utilities to generate or purchase 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. The law was so successful that it was converted from a standard to a voluntary goal by 2015.

According to the Kansas Department of Commerce, installed capacity could reach over 7,000MW in the sunflower state by 2030.

Illinois – installed capacity 4,861MW

Home of Windy City Chicago, Illinois has a wind capacity close to 5,000MW from 2,812 turbines. Illinois also has about 1300MW under construction or in advanced development.

Similar to Kansas, Illinois passed its own version of RPS for electricity suppliers to generate 25% of their power from renewables by 2025.

Illinois is also looking to commit to a 100% green energy mix under Democrat state representative Will Davis’ “Path to 100 Act.” If passed the bill would lead to an extra 6.5GW of wind power installed throughout the state.

Minnesota – installed capacity 3,779MW

Minnesota’s 3,779MW of wind energy comes from nearly 2,500 turbines mostly located in the south of the state.

The largest windfarm in the state is Buffalo Ridge Wind Farm near Lake Benton in Western Minnesota, which has a capacity of 225MW.

Like California and Illinois, Minnesota is also looking to source all of its energy from renewable sources and have carbon-free electricity by 2050 with the “One Minnesota Path to Clean Energy” set by new governor Timothy Walz.

Colorado – installed capacity 3,706MW

Closing in on Minnesota is the Centennial State of Colorado with a capacity of 3,706MW. The state has a number of large wind farms, including the Limon Wind Energy Centre.

Located to the east of state capital Denver and with a capacity of 601MW from 368 GE turbines, the farm is the eighth largest in the US and 11th largest in the world.

Other large Colorado windfarms include the ninth largest in the US, Rush Creek Wind Project, with a 600MW capacity and the thirteenth largest with Cedar Creek Wind Farm at 551MW.

Oregon – installed capacity 3,213MW

The Northwest state of Oregon is ninth in the list with 3,123MW. In 2018 wind energy accounted for 11% of the state’s energy capacity, enough to power nearly 700,000 homes.

Oregon is home to the third largest windfarm in the US with the Shepherds Flat windfarm near the border to Washington State, which has a capacity of 845MW. The farm cost $2bn, with funding coming from the Department of Energy and private investors including Google.

North Dakota – installed capacity 3,155MW

In tenth place is North Dakota with 3,155MW of wind energy capacity from 1,665 turbines. The state produces nearly 26% of its energy from wind power, which means it ranks fourth in states by wind energy percentage of power generation.

The largest windfarm in the state is the Bison Wind Energy Centre, which has a capacity of 497MW. The farm is formed of 165 turbines supplied and operated by Siemens and is part of a partnership between Siemens and Minnesota Power.

With over 900MW of wind energy under construction, North Dakota may reach a capacity of 4,000MW by the end of 2019.