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

May 14, 2008

U.S. Wind Power Still Growing at a Record Pace, Says AWEA

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,400 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity during the first quarter of 2008, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). With more than 4,000 MW of additional wind power capacity now under construction, the industry is on pace to meet or exceed last year's record installed capacity of 5,249 MW. (AWEA recently adjusted this number upward from the earlier reported number of 5,244 MW.) More than half of the new capacity was built in Texas, including the largest new facility, the 209-MW Roscoe Wind Farm, which was built by Airtricity, Inc. and is located about 50 miles west of Abilene. The largest new facility under construction is the 400-MW Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Indiana, located 90 miles northwest of Indianapolis. That project and the nearby 130.5-MW Benton County Wind Farm will be the first major wind facilities in Indiana. But despite the wind industry's current breakneck pace and geographical expansion, AWEA warns that construction could stall next year if the production tax credit is not renewed. The tax credit expires at the end of the year and could result in a rush to complete the current projects before the year's end. See the AWEA press release and first-quarter market report (PDF 226 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The AWEA press release also notes that more wind turbine components are now being manufactured in the United States. At least 17 manufacturing facilities were either brought online or expanded in 2007 and early 2008, and over the past 3 years the percentage of U.S.-made components has increased from less than 30% to nearly 50%. That trend looks likely to continue, as Siemens has announced plans to double its wind blade manufacturing capacity in Iowa, while Vestas Wind Systems plans to build a manufacturing plant for wind turbine towers in Colorado. Siemens just opened its Iowa facility in 2007, and the planned expansion will add another 200 jobs at the plant. Likewise, Vestas just opened a wind blade manufacturing plant in Colorado, and is now "resolved to build the world's largest tower factory" in the same state. The factory will require an investment of nearly $250 million, and when it is completed in mid-2010, it will convert 200,000 metric tons of steel into about 900 towers each year, employing about 400 people. See the Siemens press release and pages 5 and 6 of Vestas' first-quarter interim financial report (PDF 88 KB).