Submitted to: Resource Magazine
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/30/2009
Publication Date: 7/1/2009
Citation: Clark, R.N. 2009. The winds of change. Resource Magazine. July/August 2009. p. 4-6.
Technical Abstract: Wind-based power generation has been growing steadily in the United States and around the world, and this growth will continue—and accelerate—in the future, as the following background statistics demonstrate. The U.S. wind industry installed 8,358 megawatts (MW) of new wind generating capacity in 2008. This was enough generating capacity for over 2 million homes and increased the amount of wind power by 50 percent. The value of this investment was $17 billion, a big boost to the sluggish economy. In fact, these new wind projects accounted for about 42% of all new electric generating capacity installed in 2008. This new capacity will avoid nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking over 7 million cars off of the road. In addition, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), 35 states host wind farms. Texas remains the leading state, with a capacity of 7116 MW. That is an increase of 4,356 MW from 2007. Iowa with 2,790 MW moved to second place, surpassing California by adding 1,517 MW in 2008. California is third with 2,517 MW, and Minnesota slipped to fourth with 1,752 MW. Washington (1,375 MW), Colorado (1,068 MW), and Oregon (1,067 MW) have over 1,000 MW of installed generation. The U.S. total wind energy capacity at the end of 2008 was 25,170 MW, making the United States the world leader in wind energy production. The United States passed Germany (23,903 MW) for the number one position in 2008, and Spain remained in third position with 16,754 MW. China moved into the number four position with 12,210 MW, and India dropped to fifth with 9,645 MW. These top five countries have 72% of the world’s total wind capacity. The worldwide total is 120,800 MW (120.8 gigawatts), of which 27,000 MW was installed in 2008. More than half of the installations in 2008 occurred in the United States (8,358 MW) and China (6,300 MW). The AWEA reports that the new wind projects in the United States created 35,000 new jobs, for a total of 85,000 people employed in the wind energy sector. In addition, about half of the components are made in the United States, thus creating 55 new or expanded manufacturing facilities and an additional 13,000 new jobs. This growing industry is creating new construction, manufacturing, and service jobs all across America.