Iowa Nears 60% Wind Energy Generation Milestone

posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 in Energy News

Iowa reached an impressive clean energy milestone in 2020, according to data recently released from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Iowa produced the highest percentage of electricity by wind of any state, at 59.6%. This figure represents a sharp increase from 2019, which had the state at 42% electricity from wind.

“It’s exciting to see Iowa’s early investments in wind energy and transmission infrastructure pay off,” says the Iowa Environmental Council’s energy program director, Kerri Johannsen. “We are proud of this achievement and look forward to continued investments in renewables in the state which have already generated millions in the form of local property tax dollars and lease payments to landowners.”

Although Texas has the greatest installed wind turbine capacity of any state, it provided just under 20% of the state’s electricity in 2020. Iowa’s wind generation capacity of 11,660 megawatts in 2020 provided just shy of 60% of the state’s electricity.Road to 100% Publication

Last year IEC highlighted the need to reach 11 gigawatts of wind capacity by 2022 to stay on track for a 2050 goal of 100% renewable energy in our publication Iowa’s Road to 100%. To accomplish this goal, Iowa must double current numbers for installed wind capacity by 2030, and double again by 2050. That means Iowa must reach 20 GW of wind by 2030 and between 30 and 40 GW by 2050 to meet low-end estimates for expected electricity demand at that time. This increase in wind production will need to be matched with increased generation from solar energy, coupled with storage and increased energy efficiency measures.

“It’s important to remember that the electrification of transportation and buildings will further drive demand for electricity in the future,” said Steve Guyer, energy and climate policy specialist with the Council. “Though future load growth looks significant, even by conservative estimates, the achievement of 60% wind generation at this point in time tells us that the 100% renewable goal by 2050 is attainable.”

Wind and solar generation are now the lowest-cost forms of new electric generation even without tax credits or subsidies. To reach 100% renewable, policies that support energy storage, energy efficiency, and transmission will be critical in driving the continued growth of renewables while keeping demand for electricity manageable. Coupled with policies that support more community-scale solutions as well as the continued responsible siting of utility-scale renewables, Iowa can reap the benefits of harvesting the bountiful wind and sun resources we all share.