The U.S. wind industry has broken all records with the announcement that nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity was installed in 2009–enough to serve more than 2.4 million homes for one year. This according to the Q4 report released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). However, not all the news was good as the U.S. still lags in manufacturing; yet the recent announcement of Recovery Act manufacturing incentives are designed to improve this situation.
These new projects put wind energy in a tie with natural gas as the leading sources of new electricity generation for the country, which together account for 80 percent of all new capacity.
“The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon, and protecting consumers,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing – the canary in the mine — is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow. We need to set hard targets, in the form of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), in order to provide the necessary stability for manufacturers to expand their U.S. operations and to seize the historic opportunity we have today to build up a thriving renewable energy industry.”
This was a welcome surprise as many analysts predicted that wind development might drop as much as 50 percent as compared with 2008. Although new generating capacity for the 4th quarter was slightly down as compared to 2009 (4,041 MW completed), the total for the year was up. The industry also expects the passing of a national Renewable Electricity Standard will also help the development of the industry.
In other news, the report showed that Texas is still the leader in wind energy followed by Iowa, California and Washington, who pulled ahead of Minnesota last year. The full report can be accessed on AWEA’s website.