Annual industry outlook details increased growth spurred by strong demand, investment of private capital, as well as support of federal and state governments
Wind power generating capacity increased by 27% in 2006 and is expected to increase an additional 26% in 2007, proving wind is now a mainstream option for new power generation, according to a market forecast released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Wind's exponential growth reflects the nation's increasing demand for clean, safe and domestic energy, and continues to attract both private and public sources of capital.
"iPods, flat screen televisions and other highly sought technologies are creating a demand for electricity that is beginning to eclipse our current supply. Wind is a proven, cost-effective source of energy that also alleviates global warming and enhances our nation's energy security," said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher.
The U.S. wind energy industry installed 2,454 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2006, an investment of approximately $4 billion, billing wind as one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country – second only to natural gas – for the second year in a row. New wind farms boosted cumulative U.S. installed wind energy capacity by 27% to 11,603 MW, well above the 10,000-MW milestone reached in August 2006. One megawatt of wind power produces enough electricity to serve 250 to 300 homes on average each day.
Wind energy facilities currently installed in the U.S. will produce an estimated 31 billion kilowatt-hours annually or enough electricity to serve 2.9 million American homes. This 100% clean source of electricity will displace approximately 23 million tons of carbon dioxide – the leading greenhouse gas – each year, which would otherwise be emitted by coal, natural gas, oil and other traditional energy sources.
Wind power has also attracted the support of state and federal government legislatures. The U.S. Congress recently extended the federal production tax credit (PTC) through December 2008 to further expand the number of wind farms throughout the U.S. Based on the success of the PTC to date, AWEA is calling for extending the provision an additional five years.
"The industry has demonstrated a generous return on the investment of both private and public investment in wind," said Swisher. "Extending the PTC five years will significantly increase the progress America is making in expanding its use of new forms of energy when they've never been needed more."
The industry outlook also finds:
- Texas accounted for nearly a third of the new wind power installed in 2006, taking over the lead from California in cumulative installed capacity. Texas hosts the world's single largest operating wind farm, the 735-MW Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, located in Nolan and Taylor counties.
- New wind turbine manufacturing facilities opened in 2006 in Iowa, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Additional announcements are expected in 2007. Investment in manufacturing capability signals confidence in the market and lays the groundwork for expanded growth.
- New utility-scale turbines were installed in a total of 20 states across the country, from Maine to New Mexico to Alaska.
- The top five states in new installations were Texas (774 MW), Washington (428 MW), California (212 MW), New York (185 MW) and Minnesota (150 MW).
AWEA gathers the data for its analysis each January by contacting wind farm developers and turbine manufacturers around the country.
For more information contact Christine Real de Azua, 202-383-2508, Christine@awea.org.
A state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects is available on AWEA's Web site at http://www.awea.org/projects.