Shattering all its previous records, the US wind energy industry installed 5,244MW in 2007, expanding the country’s total wind power generating capacity by 45 per cent in a single year and injecting an investment of over $9bn into the economy.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), new wind projects accounted for about 30 per cent of the entire new power-producing capacity added in 2007, powering the equivalent of 1.5m American households annually.
‘This is the third consecutive year of record-setting growth, establishing wind power as one of the largest sources of new electricity supply for the country,’ said AWEA executive director Randall Swisher.
US wind turbines are now responsible for generating 16,818MW of power. American wind farms will generate an estimated 48 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of wind energy in 2008, just over one per cent of the US electricity supply, powering the equivalent of over 4.5 million homes.
Wind power’s strong performance is expected to continue this year, with AWEA’s initial estimates indicating that 2008 could equal 2007 in new wind capacity installed. Developers report that with strong demand for wind power across the country, wind turbines are sold out for the year.
However, AWEA projects that with more companies entering the market, more turbines will become available.
At least fourteen new manufacturing facilities opened or were announced in 2007, according to initial AWEA estimates. Companies are opening new manufacturing plants and expanding existing ones, creating new jobs and business opportunities across the country, even in states that do not have a large wind resource.
GE Energy continued to lead in wind turbine sales, with 45 per cent of the market in terms of new capacity installed. FPL Energy remained at the top of the list of wind project developers, with 956MW of new development in 2007 alone.
An AWEA report on the state of play in the US market is available at www.awea.org/Market_Report_Jan08.pdf and a state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects is available at http://www.awea.org/projects.