Outlooks for Wind Power in the United States: Drivers and Trends under a 2016 Policy Environment

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Over the past decade, wind power has become one of the fastest growing electricity generation sources in the United States. Despite this growth, the U.S. wind industry continues to experience year-to-year fluctuations across the manufacturing and supply chain as a result of dynamic market conditions and changing policy landscapes. Moreover, with advancing wind technologies, ever-changing fossil fuel prices, and evolving energy policies, the long-term future for wind power is highly uncertain. In this report, we present multiple outlooks for wind power in the United States, to explore the possibilities of future wind deployment. The future wind power outlooks presented rely on high-resolution wind resource data and advanced electric sector modeling capabilities to evaluate an array of potential scenarios of the U.S. electricity system. Scenario analysis is used to explore drivers, trends, and implications for wind power deployment over multiple periods through 2050. Specifically, we model 16 scenarios of wind deployment in the contiguous United States. These scenarios span a wide range of wind technology costs, natural gas prices, and future transmission expansion. We identify conditions with more consistent wind deployment after the production tax credit expires as well as drivers for more robust wind growth in the long run. Conversely, we highlight challenges to future wind deployment. We find that the degree to which wind technology costs decline can play an important role in future wind deployment, electric sector CO2 emissions, and lowering allowance prices for the Clean Power Plan.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages49
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-67058


  • clean power plan
  • electric sector
  • production tax credit
  • wind deployment
  • wind power


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