9,922 Megawatts of New Wind in U.S. in 2009, 39% Growth from 2008

wind turbines road cars photo

This photo is a good reminder that we're only beginning to clean up our society. Photo: Flickr, CC
Still Only a Small Fraction of Total Electricity Generation, Though
According to the American Wind Energy Association, the U.S. wind industry had a record-breaking year in 2009 and installed almost 10 gigawatts of new capacity. This represents a 39% increase over the total installed wind capacity in 2008, for a total of about 35 gigawatts.
wind turbine mountains photo

Photo: Flickr, CC
The top 5 U.S. states for wind power are:

#1 Texas - 9,410 megawatts

#2 Iowa - 3,670 megawatts

#3 California - 2,794 megawatts

#4 Washington - 1,980 megawatts

#5 Minnesota - 1,809 megawatts

But it's not all rainbows and puppies. The AWEA warns that U.S. wind manufacturing is weakening and that the future is uncertain:

At the same time, the continuing lack of a long-term policy and market signal allowed investment in the manufacturing sector to drop compared to 2008, with one-third fewer wind power manufacturing facilities online, announced and expanded in 2009. The result was net job losses in the manufacturing sector, which were compounded by low orders and high inventory. Looking forward, the critical Recovery Act manufacturing incentives that were announced only at the start of this year will also need to be supplemented with the hard targets of a national Renewable Electricity Standard.

In my opinion, the better way to encourage a fast and efficient deployment of clean energy generation capacity is to internalize the pollution costs back into the price of fossil fuels (a tax on carbon, in short -- it can be revenue neutral, that doesn't matter). Instead of subsidizing clean energy, we should reflect the real price of coal and oil in their market price, and that will automatically make clean energy very competitive. But how to achieve that politically, well, that's a whole other problem...

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