US electricity generation from wind turbines decreased for the first time since the mid-1990s in 2023 despite 6.2GW of wind capacity being installed in the past year, according to data provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA’s Power Plant Operations Report shows that US wind generation in 2023 totalled 425,235 gigawatt-hours (GWh), 2.1% less than the 434,297GWh generated in 2022.

In the past few years, wind capacity in the US has more than tripled from 47GW in 2010 to 147.5GW at the end of 2023, with electricity from wind turbines growing as a result. The utilisation rate at wind turbines fell to an eight-year low of 33.5% in 2023.

Slower wind speeds led to the decline in generation. In the first half of 2023, wind generation dropped by 14% compared with the same period in 2022. In the second half, wind speeds picked up and were 2.4% higher than the same period in 2022, but this was not enough to make up the difference.

The downward trend was not uniform across the US. The upper midwest experienced sharper drops in wind generation, with the East North Central Census Division experiencing a 6% decline from 2022 levels and the West North Central Census Division experiencing a 9% decline. Meanwhile, the Mountain Census Division saw a smaller drop of just 2%. These divisions make up for half of the installed wind capacity in the US.

In other parts of the US, wind generation was slightly higher in 2023 than it was in 2022. The West South Central Census Division saw a 3% increase in wind generation and the Pacific Coast Census Division had a 1% increase. In Texas, home to the largest wind generation fleet in the US, generation increased by 4.4% in 2023.

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This has not decelerated efforts to expand wind power in the US. Two days ago, the US Department of the Interior proposed new offshore wind lease areas off the coast of Oregon and in the Gulf of Maine that could support more than 18GW of energy generation.