Wind Energy Market Sectors

U.S. power plants generate electricity for homes, factories, and businesses from a variety of market sectors, including coal, hydropower, natural gas, nuclear, petroleum, and (non-hydro) renewable resources such as wind and solar energy. This power generation mix varies significantly across the country depending on available resources, market prices, public policy, and government or business targets.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Open Data API, Electricity Net Generation.

In 2016, renewable energy accounted for 15% of U.S. electricity generation. Wind power generation in the United States has greatly increased over the years, with more than 84 gigawatts (GW) of wind-generating capacity installed, enough to power more than 20 million homes. The Energy Department's Wind Vision report quantifies the economic, environmental, and social benefits of 35% of the nation's electricity coming from wind by 2050.

From large, land-based utility-scale wind power facilities to small and community distributed wind projects, individuals, businesses, schools, communities, and utilities are using wind energy. Learn more about the wind market sectors: utility-scale projects and distributed wind projects.

Utility-Scale Wind Market Sector

The Energy Department defines utility-scale wind projects as land-based and offshore projects larger than 1 megawatts (MW). Energy from these projects is transmitted to many users through a transmission system, similar to that of any other commercial power plant.

Utility-scale wind turbines are highly efficient, state-of-the-art wind turbines that operate with exceptionally high availability rates and generate cost-competitive electricity at power plant scales. In some regions of the country, wind power prices are competitive with wholesale power prices and other new sources of generation.

Distributed Wind Market Sector

The distributed wind market includes wind systems that can range from an off-grid wind turbine producing less than 1 kilowatt (kW) to a small array of multi-megawatt wind turbines. A distributed wind project can include community wind projects and small wind projects.

Distributed wind utilizes wind turbines, off-grid or grid-connected, to offset all or a portion of the local energy consumption at homes, farms and ranches, businesses, public and industrial facilities, and other sites in a community.

Types of Distributed Wind Turbines and Applications
Residential-Scale Onsite Energy Use Small Commercial-Scale Onsite Energy Use Commercial Onsite Energy Use Large Commercial or Industrial Energy Use
Energy Output 10 kW 10–50 kW 50–250 kW 500 kW–1.5 MW
Description Produces about as much energy as a home requires. Because these turbines are generally installed on shorter towers, a site evaluation is needed to ensure the project will perform as designed. Produces more power than the average house consumes but can be well suited for small businesses; farms; ranches; facilities such as schools, office buildings, or part of a campus; or a public load such as a hospital. Produces commercial quantities of power and can be well matched with campuses, larger facilities, communities, and larger municipal public loads. At the top end of the midsize machines and is well suited for communities and very large onsite industrial loads and can even form the basis of small wind farms. They are typically indistinguishable from utility-scale turbines on a technology basis.

How much wind power is installed in the United States?

Wind energy delivers substantial economic benefits to rural communities across the country.