Global Wind Power Day focus: wind power in the US

A record capacity of new wind were added in US in 2012.
By Anders Lorenzen

Here at A greener life, a greener world we’re big fans of wind power and today on Global Wind Power Day we will be looking at developments on the other side on the Atlantic in the US.

Despite the climate debate in the US in the last decade having received a lot of bad press and only starting to catch up now, the wind power sector is faring fairly well, even though uncertainty in its subsidies through the renewal of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which was only extended in its eleventh hour last year and for one year only. This actually had a positive effect on the sector as renewable energy companies rushed to complete installations last year before it expired. In 2012, deployment on new wind power capacity set new records adding 13.12 gigawatts (GW) – this is nearly double the 6.81 GW which was added in 2011. By comparison climate leader European Union (EU) added 11.6 GW in 2012.

In the EU we have Germany and Denmark, but in the US we have Iowa. We’re talking about countries/states classified as wind power leaders. But neither Germany nor Denmark can match Iowa’s impressive stats on wind power generation, even though it’s not the largest wind power producer in the US, it’s the state that produces most of its energy from wind; 24.5% which equates to 5.13 GW worth of capacity. But Iowa’s growth is not set to fade anytime soon, the state’s largest energy company MidAmerican Energy has just announced a $1.9 billion project, which will add 650 turbines by 2015 and extend its wind power capacity by just over 1GW.

But Ironically the state in the US with the most installed capacity is oil-rich hungry Texas with an installed capacity of 12,21 GW. It can also boast of having the worlds largest onshore wind farm, The Roscoe Wind Farm, which has a generating capacity of 800 megawatts (MW).

But where the US lacks behinds its European counterparts is in offshore wind, while Europe opens one offshore wind farm after the other (mainly in the United Kingdom) despite massive potential, the US are still to record one single offshore wind farm. This could soon be about to change though. Currently three states are in a race to get first feet on the US offshore wind market. In Massachusetts, The Cape Wind project has already made history as being the longest wind power project not being built. The idea was first proposed in 2001 and has since suffered lawsuit after lawsuit and when it was first approved in 2005, the decision was appealed which it has been every single time including last time it was approved in 2011. Though Cape Wind is suffering delay on delay, Massachusetts may still be the first state to record an offshore wind farm with federal government auctioning leases for offshore wind development off the coast in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

In Maine, the University of Maine’s Advanced Structure and Composite Center has launched an offshore wind turbine which will be used for research and the hopefully connect to the grid by 2016.

Analysts are also watching to see what move Texas will make, as the Gulf of Mexico which was made famous for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is seen as one of the most perfect US locations for offshore wind, but no developers have made any plans so far.

But it’s evident there is a lot of growth in the wind power sector in the US, remarkable also with Republicans who do not believe in climate change. On Global Wind Power day that is an accomplishment to celebrate, it’s also worth noting we have only hand-picked a few states and a few developments – there is lots of activities throughout the US states ranging from Colorado to Hawaii.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton

Categories: Massachusetts, Texas, US, Windpower

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