The US wind energy industry continued to grow in 2009, installing over 10,000 MW in new generating capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The Association’s annual market report indicates that, despite the economic downturn, last year was the best to date in terms of new wind capacity.
The country’s wind capacity now totals 35,000 MW, which is sufficient to power around 2.4 million US homes – the equivalent of three large nuclear power plants.
“[The industry is] on the verge of explosive growth if the right policies – including a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) – are put in place,” says AWEA CEO Denise Bode.
A national RES would provide long-term certainty to encourage businesses to invest tens of billions of dollars in new installations and manufacturing facilities, she adds.
Currently, 36 states have utility-scale wind projects and 14 states have more than 1 GW of installed wind capacity. Iowa leads the way in terms of the proportion of its energy that comes from wind, which tops 14%, while Texas has the most installed capacity.
NextEra Energy Resources is the single largest owner of wind farms, but Xcel Energy is the utility using the most wind power.
In terms of turbine sales, GE Energy leads the way, but ten new facilities came online last year and 20 more were announced.
The industry as a whole now employs 85,000 people from manufacturing, construction and installation to maintenance, legal and marketing services.
Finally, while the market for small-scale domestic wind turbines grew 15% in the last year to a total capacity of 20 MW, the US still has no offshore wind power. That is changing, however, says the AWEA with seven projects a significant way into the planning, permitting, and testing process.
For further information:
Linking wind farms together could make supply more reliable (7-Apr)
US could shift to 20% wind by 2024, but needs grid upgrade (21-Jan)
Wind becoming “significant” part of US energy mix, says report (20-Jul 2009)
Offshore wind could meet entire US electricity demand (9-Apr 2009)
09 April 2010