Wind Power Making its Mark for Energy, Jobs
The U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,389 megawatts (MW) this quarter, bringing to 4,204 MW the total of wind power projects completed in what is expected to be another record year, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced in its 3rd quarter market report.
With even more reported under construction, the industry is on track to surpass the banner year of 2007, when 5,249 MW were installed, with a total of about 7,500 MW this year (7,500 MW would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 2.2 million homes).
In welcome news for the economy, the industry is also aggressively expanding its manufacturing base in the United States, creating jobs and fostering investment and growth even in a difficult financial climate. AWEA's report tallies the opening of eight new wind turbine component manufacturing facilities this year; the expansion of nine facilities; and the announcement of an additional 19 facilities. As a result of recent manufacturing investment, AWEA estimates, the share of domestically made components in wind turbines has risen from about 30 percent in 2005 to 50 percent in 2008. The new facilities will create an estimated 9,000 jobs.
"The convenient truth here is that wind power provides a stimulus for our economy, as well as a climate change and energy security solution," said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. "The market, in spite of all its turmoil, clearly points to wind power as one of the most attractive energy options available today. But if we are to keep this momentum going, the new President and Congress will need to put in place what the majority of the American people support but the country still lacks: a long-term renewable energy policy."
Highlights of the report/project installations are:
•Texas, reaping the benefits of its excellent wind resource and a proactive transmission expansion policy, added 693 MW -- the most wind power capacity of any state in the third quarter. Texas moved into the 6 GW category, which propels it into the ranks of global leaders. Only Germany, India, and Spain had more wind energy capacity installed at the end of last year.
•West Virginia: The state with the fastest wind power capacity growth was West Virginia, which more than tripled its existing capacity with the addition of a 164-MW project; another 100-MW project is scheduled to come online in West Virginia by the end of the year.
•Utah added its first multi-turbine project, the 9-turbine Spanish Fork project.
•The Dakotas: Acciona Energy, a wind turbine manufacturer, brought its first U.S. turbines online at a 120-turbine project straddling the North Dakota/South Dakota border.
The report is available at www.awea.org/publications/reports/3Q08.pdf.