While it will take more than wind power to break the country’s addiction to foreign oil, the United States continues to add new wind power facilities at a record pace. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the industry installed
1,389 megawatts (MW) in the third quarter of 2008, bringing the total to 4,204 MW of wind power projects completed so far this year.
Those numbers put 2008 on pace to be another record year. With more facilities under construction, the industry is on track to reach a total of about 7,500 MW by the end of the year, which would surpass the record of 5,249 MW installed in 2007.
At the same time, the industry is expanding its manufacturing base in the United States. The AWEA’s third-quarter market report tallies the opening of eight new wind-turbine-component manufacturing facilities in 2008, the expansion of nine facilities, and the announcement of an additional 19 facilities. As a result of recent manufacturing investments, the share of domestically made components in wind turbines has risen from about 30 percent in 2005 to 50 percent. The new facilities will create an estimated 9,000 jobs.
In other highlights, Texas, -reaping the benefits of its excellent wind resources and a proactive transmission expansion policy, added 693 MW, the most wind power capacity of any state in the third quarter. Having moved into the category of 6 gigawatts of installed capacity, the Lone Star State has propelled itself onto the world stage. Only Germany, India and Spain had more wind energy capacity installed at the end of last year.
West Virginia earned the distinction of being the state with the fastest wind power capacity growth by more than tripling its existing capacity with the addition of a 164-MW project. Another 100-MW project is scheduled to come online there by the end of the year.
Based on projections, 2008 will mark the fourth year in a row that new wind capacity installations have set records, but the AWEA does not expect the trend to continue next year. Because of the late extension of the wind production tax credit and the evolving financial crisis, new construction starts are expected to slow in 2009.