Texas leads U.S. in generating wind power

AWEA said in its report on Tuesday that Texas had increased its capacity for wind power generation in the third quarter of 2009 by 436 megawatts (MW) — greater than any other U.S. state.

This makes Texas the undisputed leader in total operating wind energy capacity in the United States at 8,797 MW. That nearly triples the capacity in Iowa, which comes in second at 3,053 MW. The following three states of the top five are California, 2,787 MW; Minnesota, 1,805 MW; and Oregon, 1,659 MW.

Overall, AWEA’s third-quarter report showed the U.S. wind energy industry had recently installed a 1,649 MW generating capacity, bringing the total capacity added this year to over 5,800 MW.

At present, the total wind power capacity in the United States is more than 31,000 MW, enough to power nine million homes.

The AWEA attributes the increase to an announcement of rules to implement the stimulus bill, which amounts to approximately 6.5 billion U.S. dollars in new investment.

In August, the U.S. Energy Department and Internal Revenue Service began accepting applications for up to 2.3 billion dollars in tax credits that are available to manufacturers of advanced energy equipment.

Industry analysts believe the new investments in facilities of making equipment for renewable energy resources, including wind energy, are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit.

"These tax credits will help create thousands of high-quality manufacturing jobs in some of the highest-growing segments of the economy," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This is an opportunity to develop our global leadership in clean energy manufacturing and build a secure, sustained base of jobs for America’s workers."

AWEA’s chief executive officer Denise Bode pointed out the share of wind turbine components manufactured in the United States had increased to 50 percent in 2008, up from less than 30 percent in 2005.

"The domestic share can increase further with the stimulus funding now beginning to flow," Bode said, as long as this money was coupled with a long-term commitment to generate more electricity from renewable energy sources.

The United States is committed to an ambitious plan entitled "20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply."

Published in 2008 by the Energy Department, the plan sets the goal of using wind energy to meet 20 percent of the nation’s electricity demands by 2030.

It requires contributions and combined efforts from the Energy Department and its national laboratories, the wind industry, electric utilities, and other groups.

According to the plan, each state should improve the reliability and operability of wind systems and increase capacity for wind power generation.

To realize the plan, the key is to increase the number of turbine installations from approximately 2,000 per year in 2006 to almost 7,000 per year in 2017.

"Our challenge now is to seize the historic opportunity before us to unleash this entrepreneurial force and build up an entire new industry here in the U.S. that will create jobs, avoid carbon and strengthen our energy security," Bode said earlier this year.

After reaching 1,000 MW of wind energy in 1985, it took more than a decade for it to reach the 2,000-MW mark in 1999 in the United States.

Since then, the capacity installed has grown to 28,635 MW (till April 30, 2009) — ahead of the ambitious plan, yet still far from the goal of 300 GW wind power generating capacity by 2030.

GE Energy, Atlanta, has taken a commanding lead in the number of 2009 wind farms installations, with its wind turbines being installed in 21 of the 51 wind farms currently under construction that have announced their turbine maker. According to a report published by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Washington, D.C., on Oct. 20, Siemens and Vestas are also major players right now, with their wind turbines being installed in eight wind farms.


Latest statistics show wind industry is still growing By Chris Madison

Pessimism may be overrated, at least in the case of renewable energy. Despite the recession and other factors, AWEA’s Third Quarter Market Report shows the wind industry is continuing to grow. But new manufacturing facilities are lagging.

“Over 1,600 MW of new wind power capacity was brought online in the third quarter of 2009.” the report said. So far, in 2009 the industry has installed over 5,800 MW of new wind power, which is more than was added in the first three quarters of 2008.

However, it is already clear that the fourth quarter of 2009 will not equal 2008’s 4th quarter boom, when more than 4,000 MW were added, bringing the 2008 total to 8,358 MW.

The report said, “A major driving factor in the higher numbers of wind project development is the federal stimulus bill passed early this year.” The legislation provided grants as a temporary replacement for the production tax credit, which was not attracting investors because of the sagging economy. Other factors cited in the report are “state policies, attractive wind project economics and possibly the expectation of action on climate change.”

AWEA CEO Denise Bode said, “Wind power installations are up, and that is good news for America’s economy, environment, and energy security. But manufacturing, which has the potential to employ many more Americans in good, clean energy jobs, remains uncertain. A firm, long-term national commitment to renewable energy is still needed for the U.S. to become a wind turbine manufacturing powerhouse and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

AWEA is working to persuade Congress and the Obama Administration to include a strong renewable electricity standard in any energy package passed this year.