DOE Report: Wind Power Capacity Up 46%

The U.S. Department of Energy Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost, and Performance Trends finds that capacity increased by 46 percent in 2007, with $9 billion invested in plants in 2007 alone, making the United States the fastest-growing wind power market in the world for the third straight year.

The report also showed that wind is on a path to becoming a significant contributor to the U.S. power mix—wind projects accounted for 35 percent of all new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2007, and transmission facilities capable of generating more than 200 GW of wind power are in the early stages of development throughout the nation.

"As we work to implement President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative by increasing the use of domestic, clean, and affordable renewable energy, we are eager to continue the trend of increasing the use of wind power at unprecedented rates," DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said. "Following on the heels of a detailed analysis by DOE and its partners of the technical and economic feasibility of using wind to generate 20 percent of the nation's electricity by 2030, this record-shattering year of wind additions shows that wind power is already one of the most important, emission-free sources of energy being deployed to address climate change and improve our energy security."

First issued last year, the report analyzes developments in the wind market, including trends in wind installations, turbine size, turbine prices, installed project costs, project performance, wind power prices, and cost comparisons between wind power and conventional generation. It also describes developer consolidation trends, current ownership and financing structures, and trends among major wind power purchasers. By consolidating these data in a single, publicly-available document, DOE hopes to provide a valuable resource to industry participants, energy regulators, and state and local policymakers.

The second edition improves on last year's release by adding several new sections that highlight the growing importance of wind power. It tracks significant increases in the contribution of wind power to new capacity additions in the electric sector; the amount of wind power in utility systems; the size of wind projects; and the quantity of wind power capacity in various interconnection queues across the country. It also underscores the importance of wind power to the nation's economy, by presenting data on the growing number of investments in wind turbine manufacturing capacity in the United States.

Some of the key findings include:

• Growth is distributed across much of the nation. States as diverse as Texas, Colorado, Illinois, and Oregon led in annual capacity growth in 2007; nine states had enough wind capacity at the end of 2007 to account for more than 3 percent of total in-state electricity generation.

• Market growth is spurring manufacturing investments. Several major foreign wind turbine manufacturers either opened or announced new U.S. wind turbine manufacturing plants in 2007. New and existing U.S.-based manufacturers also either initiated or scaled-up production. All told, the new turbine and component manufacturing facilities opened or announced in 2007 could create more than 4,700 new jobs.

• Wind turbine prices and installed project costs have risen since 2002. Turbine price increases have been driven by weakness in the dollar, higher prices for materials and energy inputs, and shortages in certain turbine components – factors that are impacting many different types of generating technologies.

• Wind project performance has improved in recent years. This improvement in project performance has been driven in part by enhanced project siting and technological advancements.

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