Report finds Michigan produces 15th most wind energy nationally

Wind energy accounts for 5% of all energy production statewide

Photo of Angela Mulka
FILE - Turbines stand in a field at DTE's Polaris Wind Park in Gratiot County.

FILE — Turbines stand in a field at DTE's Polaris Wind Park in Gratiot County.

Photo provided/ DTE Energy

A new report looking at the states producing the most wind energy nationwide ranks Michigan as the 15th most wind energy producing state.

“Consumers Energy is a leader in wind energy in Michigan and now has turbines turning along Lake Michigan, in the Thumb and in southern Michigan,” said Josh Paciorek, media relations specialist for Consumers Energy. “Wind energy is incredibly important to Michigan’s clean energy future. Our wind farms are a key piece of our plan to end coal use by 2025 and have clean, renewable sources make up more than 60 percent of our electric capacity by 2040 — all while ensuring we continue to provide affordable, reliable energy to our customers.”

Amid repeated calls from scientists and activists to undertake measures to curb global warming, lawmakers, politicians and the energy industry have responded.

Foremost in that effort is the call for carbon-free energy production using alternative energy sources like wind and solar, according to the author of the report, Frank Moraes.

Wind generation is at the leading edge of the movement toward clean energy production. Fields of wind turbines nationwide have slowly started to increase their proportion of total energy production.

The analysis found that in Michigan, wind energy accounts for 5% of total energy production, compared to the 7.2% of total U.S. energy production that wind accounts for. Annually, Michigan produces almost 6 million megawatt-hours from wind energy.

Here is a summary of the data for Michigan:

• Annual wind energy production (MWh): 5,825,705
• Change in wind energy production since 2010 (MWh): 5,465,365
• Wind share of total energy production: 5%
• Wind share of total renewable energy production: 58.7%

For comparison, here are the statistics for the entire nation:

• Annual wind energy production (MWh): 295,882,483
• Change in wind energy production since 2010 (MWh): 201,230,237
• Wind share of total energy production: 7.2%
• Wind share of total renewable energy production: 40.6%

Just this year, President Joe Biden announced measures meant to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy.

In 2019, more than $13 billion was invested in wind power, and the amount of new generation capacity added to the nation's electrical grids through wind projects was greater than all other sources except natural gas, according to the report.

Driving the investment might be the simple fact that it’s far cheaper to install wind farms than it is to build hydroelectric plants and solar farms. Alongside the value, the federal government subsidized wind construction with tax credits, according to Moraes.

The results?

Wind generation exceeded hydroelectric power for the first time in 2019.

While tax credits and reasonable construction costs have increased wind’s popularity, perhaps its greatest advantage is availability. Wind regularly barrels across the Midwest and the Texas-Oklahoma border at average speeds of 20 to 30 miles per hour, a key speed range, as turbines reach their rated generation capacity when winds hit 26 to 30 miles per hour, according to Moraes.

This explains why the Midwest and the West South Central region are home to the top wind-generated electricity producers in the nation. Texas leads the nation in total wind energy production, generating more than twice as much wind electricity as the next state.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s electricity power data. To determine the states producing the most wind energy, researchers calculated the annual wind energy production, measured in megawatt-hours. Researchers also calculated absolute change in wind energy production since 2010, wind’s share of total energy production and wind’s share of total renewable energy production. View the full report here.