North Dakota claims two wind records

Strong winds in October saw North Dakota break two records.

  1. The Peace Garden state became the first to generate more than three quarters (75.4% to be exact) of their electricity from wind for an entire month.
  2. North Dakota also became the first state to generate more than half (51.2%) of their total electricity from wind energy over an entire year.

Generally, when people are talking about the  leading wind states, they refer either to Iowa – because it generates a record amount (37.1%) of its total generation from wind. Or they refer to Texas because it has the highest installed wind capacity (21,450 MW).

The ‘percentage of total generation’ metric works quite well when a state is approximately in balance between generation and consumption: which is the case for both Iowa and Texas. It does not work so well if a state’s consumption and generation are significantly out of balance. On one end of the scale are Wyoming and North Dakota which generate more than twice as much electricity as they consume. At the other end is Vermont which generates less than 40% of its own electricity or Maryland which only manages just over half  (55%).

For these extreme instances an equally valid metric – if not more so – is how much of total in-state electricity demand is met using wind energy. When this metric is used, North Dakota is a clear leader.

The previous chart shows North Dakota’s wind generation (as a percentage of total load – i.e. electricity usage) on a rolling 12-month basis. It also shows how North Dakota compares with Iowa and Texas – the two states generally considered to be U.S. wind leaders. In fact – and when using the ‘percentage of load’ metric – Iowa is number three and Texas is number ten.

The entire list of top-10 states is as follows;

Nice going North Dakota!