US Wind Farm Installations Rose 31% in 2011

U.S. Wind Energy Cumulative Installed Wind Farm Capacity Now Tops 46 GW. The U.S. wind turbines industry installed 6.81 GW of wind power capacity in 2011 – a 31% increase over new capacity added in 2010, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said.

US wind energy had improved 2011 but uncertainty looms. General Electric was the leading wind power vendor in the fourth quarter with 475 MW wind farm installed, edging out Vestas with 463 MW and Siemens with 453 MW of wind turbines.

The U.S. wind power industry installed over 6,810 MW in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has released its fourth quarter 2011 results, indicating a surge in wind farm developments. The U.S. wind turbines industry installed over 6,810 MW in 2011.

U.S. Wind Energy Installations Rose 31% in 2011. Wind farm developers installed wind turbines with capacity of 6,810 megawatts in the U.S. last year, 31 percent more than in 2011. Fourth-quarter wind power installations reached 3,444 megawatts.

Fourth-quarter installations reached 3,444 megawatts, topping the first three quarters combined, led by California, Illinois and Ohio, the fastest-growing state, the American Wind Energy Association said.

General Electric (GE) held onto its position as the top supplier last year, delivering wind turbines with capacity of 2,000 megawatts, followed by Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) with 1,768 megawatts and Siemens AG (SIE) with 938.8 megawatts.

The U.S. wind turbines industry’s fourth quarter results show that wind power is forging ahead into new states like Ohio and Nevada while doubling down on installations in existing strong wind farm markets in California, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas.

Illinois was a very strong performer in 2011, clocking in as #2 for installations in the last year and rising to #4 in wind power overall (the only mover in the overall top 10) and Kansas tops the under construction list with more than 1,188 megawatts of wind turbines scheduled to come on line in 2012. Ohio was another success story as the nation’s fastest growing state in wind power for 2011.

“This shows what wind power is capable of: building new projects, powering local economies and creating jobs,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Traditional tax incentives are working. This tremendous activity is being driven by the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) – which leveraged an average of more than $16 billion a year in private investment over the last several years and supported tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

The U.S. wind turbines industry installed just over 6,810 megawatts (MW) in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010, and has more than 8,300 MW under construction, setting the stage for a strong 2012.

While California topped the list for megawatts installed in 2011 with 921, Illinois also had a very strong 2011, coming in with the second most megawatts installed for the year and rising to #4 on the overall list. Other traditional stalwarts like Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma rounded out the top five. Ohio came in as the fastest growing wind power state in 2011 with 101 megawatts installed leading to a more than 900% growth rate. Meanwhile, South Dakota joined Iowa as the states receiving the highest percentage of their electricity from wind with 20%. Overall, 30 states brought wind projects online in 2011 and construction is ongoing for 2012 projects in 31 states including the first wind farm projects in Nevada, Connecticut and Puerto Rico.

“In hard economic times we’re creating jobs and delivering clean, affordable electricity,” Bode stressed. “But we will lose all these consumer benefits and a brand new, growing manufacturing sector if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire. Businesses need certainty. That is why it is urgent that Congress extend the PTC now, before the end of the first quarter, or risk losing a bright new manufacturing sector to foreign countries.”

A recent report by Navigant Consulting finds that if Congress allows the PTC for wind to expire, jobs in the wind turbines industry will be cut in half, meaning a loss of 37,000 American jobs and a one third cut to American wind turbines manufacturing jobs, while private investment in the industry would drop by nearly two thirds. And Navigant found that these job losses will begin now and accelerate with each month the PTC nears the expiration deadline at the end of the year. Meanwhile, extending the PTC will allow the wind industry to grow to almost 100,000 American jobs in just four years and stay on track toward supporting 500,000 American jobs by 2030. The report can be found here.

Bode said she’ll be asking lawmakers, “Do you want to raise rates on consumers in a bad economy by raising taxes on wind? Do you want to be the one to say that we just shut down a new manufacturing sector, and an industry that could support 500,000 jobs in less than 20 years, just as it was getting a foothold in the U.S. market?”

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Representatives Dave Reichert (R, WA-08) and Earl Blumenauer (D, OR-03) seeks to grant a four-year extension to the existing Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy (H.R. 3307, the “American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act”). This legislation has garnered the support of 56 cosponsors including 13 Republicans.

This legislation recently received the endorsement of a broad, coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, the Western Governors’ Association, the United Steelworkers and many members of the environmental community. A four-year PTC extension also has the support of the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition comprised of 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.

Other highlights of the fourth quarter and the U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter Market Report 2011 that AWEA released today include:

The PTC is a tax incentive that helps keep electricity rates low and encourages development of proven clean energy projects. Private investment generated over the last four years of relative PTC stability averages $17 billion a year.

The wind energy PTC will expire in 2012 unless Congress takes action. Failure to extend the PTC would lead to job losses and will put the brakes on the progress America has made to include clean, affordable, homegrown energy as part of the U.S. electricity portfolio.

Facing the threat of the PTC expiring, wind farm project developers have become hesitant to plan future U.S. projects and American manufacturers have seen a marked decrease in orders. The wind turbines industry is facing the recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it saw in previous years when the PTC was allowed to expire. In the years following expiration, installations dropped by between 73 and 93 percent, resulting in major job losses.

End 1997: 1,673 MW
End 1998: 1,820 MW (+8.8 %)
End 1999: 2,534 MW (+39.3 %)
End 2000: 2,564 MW (+1.2 %)
End 2001: 4,258 MW (+66.1 %)
End 2002: 4,685 MW (+10.1 %)
End 2003: 6,370 MW (+36 %)
End 2004: 6,725 MW (+5.6 %)
End 2005: 9,149 MW (+36.1 %)
End 2006: 11,603 MW (+26.9 %)
End 2007: 16,819 MW (+45 %)
End 2008: 25,170 MW (+49.7 %)
End 2009: 35,159 MW (+39.7 %)
End 2010: 40,200 MW (+14.4 %)
End 2011: 46,010 MW (+31.0%)