This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 16, 2006

U.S. Wind Power Capacity Hits 10 Gigawatts

Photo of cranes assembling wind turbines. A crane in the foreground is setting a tower in place, while behind that stands a tower with just the nacelle. A completed turbine stands in the background.

As U.S. wind power hits a milestone, more wind projects are under construction throughout the country.
Credit: Scott Kirk/Puget Sound Energy

The wind energy industry hit a milestone on August 14th, when U.S. wind power capacity reached 10,000 megawatts (MW), or 10 gigawatts. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), U.S. wind power is now generating enough electricity to serve more than 2.5 million homes. As noted by AWEA, the industry grew slowly at first, reaching 1,000 MW in 1985, and requiring more than a decade to reach 2,000 MW, in 1999. Since then, U.S. wind power has increased fivefold. In this year alone, AWEA expects 3,000 MW of wind power to be brought online. See the AWEA press release.

A number of recent reports have confirmed the value of wind power. A report from the Utility Wind Integration Group (UWIG) found no issues with integrating wind power into electricity grids, provided the wind energy projects are designed and operated well. A study from DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) examined the economic impacts of new wind, coal, and natural gas power plants in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan, and found that wind power plants provided the greatest economic benefit to each state. Finally, a Frost & Sullivan report expects the quickly growing wind power industry to place tremendous pressure on the supply chain for wind turbines. The report expects the industry to outsource the production of non-essential turbine components and anticipates that both turbine manufacturers and wind power developers will secure long-term supply contracts to help reduce lead times and keep costs down. See the UWIG press release, the full UWIG report (PDF 123 KB), the NREL report (PDF 983 KB), and the Frost & Sullivan press release. Download Adobe Reader.