US wind power grows by 50%

Wind power generation in the US grew by 50% in 2008 and channelled investment of $17bn into the economy.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said the installation of more than 8,000 megawatts of new generating capacity during the course of the year had shattered all previous records.

But AWEA chiefs warned that despite this boom, the industry now faced an uncertain future in 2009 as the financial crisis continues.

Financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed to a trickle at the end of last year, and the turbine manufacturing sector began to axe jobs.

“Our numbers are both exciting and sobering,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The US wind energy industry’s performance in 2008 confirms that wind is an economic and job creation dynamo, ready to deliver on the President’s call to double renewable energy production in three years.

“At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development.”

The association said it hoped the Economic Stimulus Bill, which has been passed by the House of Representatives and now faces a vote in the Senate to become law, would help restore the wind industry’s momentum and create new jobs.

Altogether, wind energy generating capacity in the US now stands at 25,170 MW, producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of close to seven million households.

Reacting to the figures, Alan Nogee, Clean Energy Program director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “If you build the right policies, clean energy will come.

“Renewable energy, led by wind, is finally exploding here in the United States, but there’s still a long way to go.

“This growth shows that President Obama’s economic recovery goal of doubling renewable energy use in the next two years is achievable.”

Last year, the US became the world’s largest producer of wind power. Richard Kidd, Program Director of the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), explains more about the US commitment to renewable power below.

Kate Martin

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