AWEA: U.S. Wind Power Capacity Surged 45 Percent In 2007 - 4/1/2008

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 5,244 MW of wind turbine power generating capacity in 2007, expanding the nation’s total wind power capability by 45 percent in one calendar year, the American Wind Energy Assn. (AWEA, Washington, D.C.) reported in mid-January. The new wind projects represent an investment of

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 5,244 MW of wind turbine power generating capacity in 2007, expanding the nation’s total wind power capability by 45 percent in one calendar year, the American Wind Energy Assn. (AWEA, Washington, D.C.) reported in mid-January. The new wind projects represent an investment of more than $9 billion (USD) and account for about 30 percent of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally in 2007, enough to power the equivalent of 1.5 million American households.

“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,” says AWEA executive director Randall Swisher. “This remarkable and accelerating growth is driven by strong demand, favorable economics and a period of welcome relief from the on-again, off-again, boom-and-bust cycle of the federal production tax credit (PTC) for wind power.”

U.S. wind power capacity is now 16,818 MW and spans 34 states. American wind farms will generate an estimated 48 billion kilowatt hours of wind energy in 2008, slightly more than 1 percent of the U.S. electricity supply, powering the equivalent of more than 4.5 million homes.

Looking ahead, AWEA’s estimates indicate that 2008 could equal 2007 in new wind capacity installed. Developers report that with strong demand for wind power across the country, wind turbine construction capacity is sold out for the year. However, AWEA projects that as more companies enter the market, more turbines will become available. The pace of growth in 2008 and beyond is expected to depend not on turbine availability, but largely on the timing and duration of an extension of the federal production tax credit, which expires Dec. 31, 2008. The report noted that at least 14 new wind energy-related manufacturing facilities opened or were announced in 2007 in the U.S., and installations in the last quarter of 2007 alone (2,930 MW) surpassed the amount installed in all of 2006 (2,454 MW). Additionally, the states with the most cumulative wind power capacity installed are Texas (4,356 MW), California (2,439 MW), Minnesota (1,299 MW), Iowa (1,273 MW) and Washington (1,163 MW). According to AWEA, GE Energy (Atlanta, Ga.) continued to lead in wind turbine sales, with 45 percent of the market in terms of new capacity installed; and FPL Energy (Juno Beach, Fla.) remained atop the list of wind project developers, with 956 MW of new development in 2007.