Another Record Year for Wind Power

John Davis

Another nearly 1,400 megawatts (MW) of wind energy has been installed during the last three months, putting the U.S. wind energy industry on a record-setting pace again this year.

The American Wind Energy Association says the latest figure brings this year’s total to 4,204 MW:

With even more reported under construction, the industry is on track to surpass the banner year of 2007, when 5,249 MW were installed, with a total of about 7,500 MW this year (7,500 MW would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 2.2 million homes).

In welcome news for the economy, the industry is also aggressively expanding its manufacturing base in the U.S., creating jobs and fostering investment and growth even in a difficult financial climate. AWEA’s report tallies the opening of eight new wind turbine component manufacturing facilities this year; the expansion of nine facilities; and the announcement of an additional 19 facilities. As a result of recent manufacturing investment, AWEA estimates, the share of domestically made components in wind turbines has risen from about 30% in 2005 to 50% today. The new facilities will create an estimated 9,000 jobs.

“The convenient truth here is that wind power provides a stimulus for our economy, as well as a climate change and energy security solution,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “The market, in spite of all its turmoil, clearly points to wind power as one of the most attractive energy options available today. But if we are to keep this momentum going, the new President and Congress will need to put in place what the majority of the American people support but the country still lacks: a long-term renewable energy policy.”

Texas led the way in the wind energy expansion, adding 693 MW. That gives the state more than 6 gigawatts (GW) of capacity… ranking tops in the nation and fourth worldwide. West Virginia is the state with the fastest wind power capacity growth, tripling its existing capacity with the addition of a 164-MW project and another 100-MW project is scheduled to come online by the end of this year.