WindFail: Minnesota Wind Facilities Could Produce Less Electricity in 2019 Than In 2018

This is huge news.

I was looking through some data from the Energy Information Administration’s website and I stumbled upon this interesting graph which shows that electricity generation from wind in 2019 could be less than it was in 2018 (red line added for emphasis). As you can see, generation from wind power peaked in December of 2017 and has not reached anywhere close to that height in the following months.

In fact, wind output was 24 percent lower in December of 2018 than in December of 2017.

It is interesting to note that wind generation did increases by about 1.8 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, mostly due to a windier-than-usual summer, but this came at a time when the amount of installed capacity in the state grew by by 3.7 percent, increasing from 3,708 MW at year-end 2017, to 3,845 at the end of 2018, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

In other words, the wind fleet is becoming less efficient because electricity generation from wind is rising slower than the installed capacity of wind.

Now, one could explain away the perceived decline in the efficiency of Minnesota’s wind fleet in 2018 by arguing that most wind turbines are placed into service at the end of the year to maximize tax credits for the following year.

This is true. Most wind turbines come online in quarter four, and this fact could explain some of the 2018 numbers, but it cannot explain why 2019 has gotten off to such a lousy start. I will keep track of this data moving forward to see how the rest of the year pans out, but based on the anecdotal data I’ve seen from posting screenshots of Electricity Map, I do believe it is possible that wind output in Minnesota could be the lowest it’s been since 2016.