This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
U.S. Wind Energy Production and Manufacturing Reaches Record Highs
U.S. wind power had a banner year in 2012, according to two new Energy Department reports.
The Energy Department released two new reports on August 6 showcasing record growth across the U.S. wind market. In 2012, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity for the first time—representing 43% of all new electric additions and accounting for $25 billion in U.S. investment. According to these reports, the United States continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wind markets.
The Energy Department and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released the 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report—detailing the latest trends in the U.S. wind power market. Last year, more than 13 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity were added to the U.S. grid, nearly double the wind capacity deployed in 2011. This tremendous growth helped America’s total wind power capacity surpass 60 GW at the end of 2012. That represents enough capacity to power more than 15 million homes each year. The country’s cumulative installed wind energy capacity has increased more than 22-fold since 2000.
The proportion of wind turbine components such as towers, blades, and gears made in America has increased dramatically. The report estimates 72% of the wind turbine equipment installed in the United States in 2011 was made by domestic manufacturers, nearly tripling from 25% in 2006-2007. At the same time, the price of wind under long-term power purchase contracts signed in 2011 and 2012 averaged 4 cents per kilowatt hour—making wind competitive with a range of wholesale electricity prices seen in 2012.
For the first time, the Energy Department and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory issued the 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications—highlighting strong growth in the U.S. distributed wind energy market. The report finds that distributed wind in the U.S. reached a 10-year cumulative installed capacity of more than 812 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2012—representing more than 69,000 units across all 50 states. Between 2011 and 2012, U.S. distributed wind capacity grew by 175 MW, with about 80 percent of this growth coming from utility-scale installations. At the state level, Iowa, Massachusetts, California and Wisconsin led the nation in new distributed wind power capacity in 2012. Over the past ten years, the U.S. distributed wind market has grown more than five-fold. See the Energy Department press release.