The Daily Chart: Breaking Wind

Every sensible person knows that wind power blows (and occasionally blows chunks), but today the Energy Information Administration (EIA) takes note. We’re adding massive wind power capacity under Joe Biden’s blowout “Inflation Reduction Act,” yet last year wind power output somehow went down:

EIA’s write-up offers some fine comedy and obfuscation:

U.S. electricity generation from wind turbines decreased for the first time since the mid-1990s in 2023 despite the addition of 6.2 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity last year. Data from our Power Plant Operations Report show that U.S. wind generation in 2023 totaled 425,235 gigawatthours (GWh), 2.1% less than the 434,297 GWh generated in 2022.

U.S. wind capacity increased steadily over the last several years, more than tripling from 47.0 GW in 2010 to 147.5 GW at the end of 2023. Electricity generation from wind turbines also grew steadily, at a similar rate to capacity, until 2023. Last year, the average utilization rate, or capacity factor, of the wind turbine fleet fell to an eight-year low of 33.5% (compared with 35.9% in 2022, the all-time high).

The 2023 decline in wind generation indicates that wind as a generation source is maturing after decades of rapid growth. Slower wind speeds than normal affected wind generation in 2023, especially during the first half of the year when wind generation dropped by 14% compared with the same period in 2022. [Emphasis added.]

“Maturing,” they say. Looks more like early senescence. And even the EIA can’t conceal that wind “capacity” does not equal actual output. A windmill with a “capacity” of 3 MW isn’t really 3 MB if it only produces electricity a third of the time.

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