|Infographic showcasing the record developments in US wind power in 2012.
By Anders Lorenzen
In a report released this month by the US Department of Energy, figures were revealed record growth in the US wind power market. In 2012, there were 90% more wind power installations than in 2011 adding 13.1 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity, taking total capacity up to 60 GW, enough to power 15 million homes. The industry is also heavily contributing to the green economy, with 72% of wind turbine equipment manufactured in America itself, and now provides 80,000 American jobs and growing.
These figures combined mean that wind power is the fastest growing energy source in US; in 2012, 43% of all new energy capacity was power sourced from wind. Nine US states now rely on wind power for at least 12% of their annual energy consumption, and in Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas this is as high as 20%. Texas remains the leader in terms of total capacity total capacity which stands at 12.21 GW, it was also the state that added most new capacity in 2012.
Wind power technology is also steadily improving; wind turbines are becoming more efficient and the manufacturing cost is dropping resulting in cheaper energy from wind.
Following the report the US Department of Energy celebrated the wind power industry success story in a large scale Google Hangout with industry experts, in which discussions ranged from the future growth of the industry, the issue with storage, combining wind and solar, the potential for wind power in states lacking wind resources and a future boom in offshore wind.
There are two main obstacles to future growth. The first is available funding via the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is a wind tax credit. It was extended at the 11th hour last year, which will need to be renewed again this year. The uncertainty of the PTC is is damaging long term investment as investors are hesitant about planning more than a year ahead. The other is the age and inefficiency of the electricity grid which will need a considerable upgrade to cope with wind power and other renewable energy sources.
Regardless however, there is great excitement about this year’s achievements and much anticipation surrounding the future growth of both on and offshore wind markets in the US.