AWEA: Wind power growth slowed in 2010, but rebound beckons

America’s wind power industry grew by 15 percent in 2010 and provided 26 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the United States; 5,116 MW were added last year, bringing total U.S. wind installations 40,181 MW.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA, Washington, DC) on April 7 issued its annual report on the state of wind energy development in the United States. America’s wind power industry grew by 15 percent in 2010 and provided 26 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the United States. With the 5,116 MW added last year, U.S. wind installations now stand at 40,181 MW, enough to supply electricity for more than 10 million American homes.

“The American wind industry is delivering, despite competing with energy sectors that have permanent government subsidies in place,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. “Wind is consistently performing,” she said, “adding 35 percent of all new generating capacity since 2007 — that’s twice what coal and nuclear added combined.”

In addition to wind power’s increased affordability, the 1603 investment tax credit program contributed to new project starts in 2010. On top of new construction starts, 2010 saw new manufacturing as well. The industry brought 14 new manufacturing facilities online, consistent with 2009.

The U.S. wind market entered 2011 with 5,600 MW under construction — more than twice the megawatts under construction at the start of 2010. The extension of the 1603 tax credit in December 2010 provided a signal to investors to continue growing wind in the U.S., says AWEA.

“We remain on track to produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030 with wind, as laid out by the Department of Energy during the Bush Administration,” says Bode. “We know wind is ready to deliver even more of our portfolio with clean, affordable, homegrown power.”

Other facts from the report include:

  • The entire U.S. wind fleet produced 2.3 percent of the nation’s electricity generation in 2010, up from 1.7% in 2009.
  • The U.S. has more than 35,600 wind turbines in the ground, with an average turbine size of 1.77 MW installed in 2010.
  • The U.S. has seen 35 percent average annual growth in installed wind power capacity over the last five years.
  • Texas was the first U.S. state to pass the 10,000 MW mark, with 10,085 MW of installed wind capacity at the end of 2010.
  • After Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota and Washington round out the top five states in installed wind power capacity.
  • The U.S. is second only to China’s total installed wind energy capacity of 42,300 MW.
  • The top three owners of wind energy capacity are NextEra Energy Resources (8,077 MW), Iberdrola Renewables (4,301 MW) and Horizon-EDPR (3,141 MW).
  • The top three utility owners of wind energy capacity are MidAmerican Energy (2,316 MW), Portland General Electric (450 MW) and Pugel Sound Energy (429 MW).
  • The top five wind turbine manufacturers, by share of megawatt capacity, are GE Energy (2,543 MW), Siemens (828 MW), Gamesa (562 MW), Mitsubishi (350 MW) and Suzlon (312 MW).