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U.S. wind energy industry breaks all records, installs nearly 10,000 MW in 2009

1/26/10
The U.S. wind industry broke all previous records by installing nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2009 (enough to serve over 2.4 million homes), but still lags in manufacturing, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today in its Q4 report.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –   The U.S. wind industry broke all previous records by installing nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2009 (enough to serve over 2.4 million homes), but still lags in manufacturing, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today in its Q4 report.

These new projects place wind power neck and neck with natural gas ¹ as the leading source of new electricity generation for the country. Together, the two sources account for about 80% of the new capacity added in the country last year. 

“The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon, and protecting consumers,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing – the canary in the mine -- is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow. We need to set hard targets, in the form of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), in order to provide the necessary stability for manufacturers to expand their U.S. operations and to seize the historic opportunity we have today to build up a thriving renewable energy industry.”

Early last year, before the Recovery Act (ARRA), the industry anticipated that in 2009 wind power development might drop by as much as 50% from 2008 levels, with equivalent job losses. The clear commitment by the President to create clean energy jobs and the swift implementation of ARRA incentives by the Administration in mid-summer reversed the situation. Recovery Act incentives spurred the growth of construction, operations and maintenance, and management jobs, helping the industry to save and create jobs in those sectors and shine as a bright spot in the economy.

At the same time, the continuing lack of a long-term policy and market signal allowed investment in the manufacturing sector to drop compared to 2008, with one-third fewer wind power manufacturing facilities online, announced and expanded in 2009.  The result was net job losses in the manufacturing sector, which were compounded by low orders and high inventory. Looking forward, the critical Recovery Act manufacturing incentives that were announced only at the start of this year will also need to be supplemented with the hard targets of a national Renewable Electricity Standard.

With 4,041 MW completed, this fourth quarter was the strongest in the year but still lower than the fourth quarter of 2008. 

The 9,922 MW installed last year expand the nation’s wind plant fleet by 39% and bring total wind power generating capacity in the U.S to over 35,000 MW.  The five-year average annual growth rate for the industry is now 39%, up from 32% between 2003 and 2008.  U.S. wind projects today generate enough to power the equivalent of 9.7 million homes, protecting consumers from fuel price volatility and strengthening our energy security. 

America’s wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road, and will conserve approximately 20 billion gallons of water annually, which would otherwise be consumed for steam or cooling in conventional power plants. 

In state news, Texas consolidated its lead, and Washington pulled ahead of Minnesota in the ranking of the top five states by wind power installed (in MW):


Texas

9,410

Iowa

3,670

California

2,794

Washington

1,980

Minnesota

1,809

 

The Q4 report is available on AWEA’s Web site at
http://www.awea.org/publications/reports/4Q09.pdf .


View the AWEA webinar for the Q4 report at
http://www.awea.org/publications/reports/2009_4Q_WebinarPresentation.pdf .


A full projects map and list will be updated at http://www.awea.org/projects/ .

A full Wind Industry Market and Rankings Report will be available in April 2010.

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AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. We represent 1,000 member companies and over 100,000 jobs in the U.S. economy, serving as a powerful voice for how wind works for America. Members include global leaders in wind power and energy development, turbine manufacturing, and component and service suppliers. They gather each year at the Western Hemisphere’s largest wind power trade show, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, next in Houston, May 20-23, 2019. Find information about wind energy on the AWEA website. Gain insight into industry issues on AWEA's blog, Into the Wind. And please join us on Facebook, and follow @AWEA on Twitter.