Is America’s Wind Boom Over? [Infographic]

Now that a tax incentive for wind has expired, the energy source faces an uncertain future

The production tax credit for renewable energy expired—most recently—at the end of 2013, and it’s unclear if Congress will renew it again. The program gives wind farms 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of renewable energy they pump into the U.S. grid. Since it was enacted in 1992, the incentive has driven a sevenfold increase in the number of U.S. turbines. “Wind has grown so much that it’s approaching hydroelectric in scale,” says Gwen Bredehoeft, an analyst with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Without the tax credit, Bredehoeft says, new turbine construction will probably stall until at least 2030, when the country will need more energy generation. Until then, this is the American wind-energy landscape.

Map by Katie Peek; Wind-turbines data courtesy U.S. Geological Survey; Wind-speed data courtesy AWS Truepower.
Left: Total U.S. Wind-Energy Capacity In Gigawatts. When a renewable-energy tax credit was in place [represented by diagonal lines], energy companies raced to build new turbines. Each time the credit expired [yellow columns], construction—and hence capacity—flattened out. Right: U.S. Wind Turbines By Type.Katie Peek

_This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of _Popular Science.