Blown over

The US wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing 8,358MW of new generating capacity.


The US wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing 8,358MW of new generating capacity, enough to serve more than two million homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).


The massive growth in 2008 swelled the US’s total wind-power generating capacity by 50 per cent and channelled an investment of around $17bn into the economy. 


At the end of the year, however, financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed to a trickle and layoffs began to hit the wind-turbine manufacturing sector.


The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42 per cent of the entire new power-producing capacity added in the US last year, according to initial estimates, and will avoid nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking more than seven million cars off of the road.   


The amount that the industry brought online in the fourth quarter alone – 4,112 MW – exceeds annual additions for every year except 2007.


In all, wind energy generating capacity in the US now stands at 25,170MW, enough to power the equivalent of close to seven million households.


In Europe, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) reported recently that the wind energy industry in Europe has created 33 new jobs every day for the past five years and that jobs in wind energy will more than double from 154,000 to 325,000 by 2020.