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U.S. Wind Power Surges 45%, Again Shatters Records - AWEA

Jan 21, 2008 - Wind Energy Weekly

Shattering all of its previous records, the U.S. wind energy industry installed 5,244 MW in 2007, expanding the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 45% in a single calendar year and injecting an investment of over $9 billion into the economy, AWEA announced January 17.

The new wind projects account for about 30% of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally in 2007 and will power the equivalent of 1.5 million American households annually while strengthening U.S. energy supply with clean, homegrown electric power, the trade group said.

“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,” said 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.”

But, warned Swisher, “The PTC and tax incentives for other renewable energy sources are now in danger of lapsing at the end of this year—and at the worst moment for the U.S economy. The U.S. wind industry calls on Congress and the President to quickly extend the PTC—the only existing U.S. incentive for wind power—in order to sustain this remarkable growth along with the manufacturing jobs, fresh economic opportunities, and reduction of global-warming pollution that it provides.”

The U.S. wind power fleet now numbers 16,818 MW and spans 34 states. American wind farms will generate an estimated 48 billion kWh of wind energy in 2008, just over 1% of U.S. electricity supply, powering the equivalent of over 4.5 million homes. AWEA noted that wind power installed thus far:

Helps protect consumers from increases in electricity costs due to volatile fuel prices and supply disruptions : by reducing the use of natural gas and other fuels used for electricity generation, and lowering the pressure on their price, wind can save consumers money, even in regions with low or no wind resources. Reduces global warming emissions : to generate the same amount of electricity using the average U.S. power plant fuel mix would cause over 28 million tons of carbon dioxide to be emitted annually, equivalent to taking more than 4.8 million cars off the road. Conserves precious water resources : wind farms don’t need water for steam or for cooling, a benefit that is increasingly valuable in arid areas and in times of drought. Wind power’s strong performance is expected to continue this year, with AWEA’s initial estimates indicating that 2008 could equal 2007 in new capacity installed. Developers report that with strong demand for wind energy across the country, wind turbines are sold out for the year. However, AWEA projects that with more companies entering the market, more turbines will become available. The pace of growth in 2008 and beyond is expected to largely depend, not on turbine availability, but on the timing and duration of an extension of the federal production tax credit, AWEA said.

The numbers are part of AWEA’s 2007 industry market report. Highlights of the report include:

Red-hot fourth quarter. Installations in the last quarter of 2007 alone (2,930 MW) surpassed the amount installed in all of 2006 (2,454 MW).

Lone Star State still leads. Texas consolidated its lead among states in capacity; wind power also expanded at a strong pace in the Midwest and Northwest. 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).

Investment flowing into the supply chain. At least 14 new manufacturing facilities opened or were announced in 2007, according to initial AWEA estimates. Companies are opening new manufacturing plants and expanding existing ones, creating new jobs and business opportunities across the country, even in states that do not have a large wind resource.

GE, FPL Energy top lists. GE Energy continued to lead in wind turbine sales, with 45% of the market in terms of new capacity installed. FPL Energy remained atop the list of wind project developers, with 956 MW of new development in 2007 alone.

The full annual report is available on the AWEA Web site at www.awea.org/Market_Report_Jan08.pdf , and a state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects is available at http://www.awea.org/projects.