I've talked very often about how things can progress non-linearly. By this I mean that it's dangerous to look at the rate of change of something and to extrapolate it into the future in a straight line; some people do this and project that there will only be X electric cars or Y gigawatts of clean energy built 10 or 20 years into the future. This can be misleading because, with the right conditions, things can start moving much faster in a very short period of time. This doesn't always happens, and it can be tough to predict what those right conditions are, but when it happens, it can change everything. Just look at what happened when cell phones reached the right price and convenience and went from a toy for businessmen to something that billions of people use daily.
Of course wind turbines and solar panels aren't exactly the same as cell phones, but I believe that they, too, can spread like wildfire under the right conditions.
So while we haven't yet quite seen the right conditions on a global basis, the fear of losing wind power tax credits certainly lit a fire under wind power in the US in 2012. We already saw that new installed wind power in the United States added up to 6,519 megawatts in the first 11 months of the year, more than new natural gas capacity and twice more than coal. That in itself was impressive, and we expected a bumper crop in December... But nothing quite this massive.
December 2012 was by far the biggest month ever for new wind power installation in the US with 5.5 gigawatts of new capacity! This brings the year to 13.2 gigawatts, another record!
The figures were compiled by research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance, based on the world’s leading database of transactions and projects in clean energy. The previous record had been set in 2009, with 10GW installed. The 2012 capacity addition represented more than a 102% increase over 2011′s number, when the industry installed 6.5GW. (source)
With the 2012 numbers now tallied up, wind projects account for 60GW of total capacity across the US, which represents 6% of the country’s electricity generating capacity.
With the extension of the wind power tax credit into 2013, let's hope that new records will be broken over the next 12 months.