Wind Is Up, Says Industry Body
Good news from the wind industry front. According to the latest figures released by the American Wind Energy Association, America’s wind power industry grew by 15% in 2010 and provided 26% of all new electric generating capacity in the United States. With the 5,116 MW added last year, U.S. wind installations now stand at 40,181 MW, enough to supply electricity for over 10 million American homes.
“The American wind industry is delivering, despite competing with energy sectors that have permanent government subsidies in place,” said Denise Bode, AWEA's CEO. “Wind is consistently performing,” she said, “adding 35% of all new generating capacity since 2007 - that’s twice what coal and nuclear added combined.”
According to a recent report released by the industry, wind is second in new generation capacity only to natural gas whichsecures its position as an important player in the nation’s energy sector, says the report.
“It’s simple: Wind is affordable,” said Elizabeth Salerno, director of Data and Analysis and chief economist for AWEA. “It’s costing less than ever, and competing with other sources thanks to improved turbines built for better performance without a big price tag.”
One of the reasons for the success of wind, apart from its increased affordability, is the 1603 investment tax credit program, which contributed to new project starts in 2010. On top of new construction starts, 2010 saw new manufacturing as well. A virtuous cycle was in play—manufacturers continued to respond to the demand and set up shop in the U.S. The industry brought 14 new manufacturing facilities online, consistent with 2009.
“Continued interest and investment by manufacturers in America demonstrates that the U.S. continues to be a global powerhouse for wind development, today and in the future,” Bode said. With these new investments, wind energy is now up to 20,000 manufacturing jobs across 42 states.”
The U.S. wind market entered 2011 with 5,600 MW under construction—more than twice the megawatts under construction at the start of 2010. The extension of the 1603 tax credit in December 2010 provided a signal to investors to continue growing wind in the U.S., as this strong performance indicates.
Despite the good news, AWEA warns that the U.S. remains reliant on a few conventional energy sources and needs to further diversify its energy portfolio. “We remain on track to produce 20% of America’s electricity by 2030 with wind, as laid out by the Department of Energy during the Bush Administration,” she continued. “We know wind is ready to deliver even more of our portfolio with clean, affordable, homegrown power, said Ms. Bode.
Recent figures reveal that other types of renewable energy, such as solar and geothermal, have also experienced growth and that nuclear’s share of net electricity generation has gone down.
Image credit: AWEA