Thursday, February 7, 2013

Record Year for US Wind Power in 2012

In 2012 wind energy was the leading source of new energy generation providing 42 percent of all new generating capacity in the US. According to the AWEA, during the course of 2012 America installed 13,124 megawatts (MW) giving the nation 60,000 MW (60 gigawatts) of cumulative wind capacity. This is a new record for installed wind energy eclipsing the previous record of 10,000 MW installed in 2010.

Lead by Texas, California, Kansas, Oklahoma and Illinois, wind energy grew by 28 percent in 2012 and poured $25 billion of private investment into the US.

In total there were 190 wind projects across 32 states plus Puerto Rico. A total of 66 utilities bought or owned wind power in 2012, up from 42 in 2011. New wind power purchasers last year included at least 18 industrial buyers, 11 schools and universities, and eight towns or cities.

In August AWEA announced that the US wind industry had 50,000 MW installed, five months later that figure grew by an additional 10,000 MW to reach more than 60,000 MW. To put that number in perspective current American wind energy can provide power for 15 million US homes.

The environmental benefits of American wind power are considerable. Current levels of installed wind power will avoid 95.9 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to 1.8% of the entire country’s carbon emissions.

The fourth quarter of 2012 was the strongest quarter in U.S. wind power history due in large part to efforts to capitalize on the expiration of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) which was slated to end on December 31, 2012, The PTC was extended by Congress on on January 1, 2013, as part of the fiscal cliff package known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

Taken together renewable energy provided over 55 percent of all new US generating capacity in 2012.

The strong performance in 2012 suggests that wind power has the ability to scale up to become a leading contributor to the US energy picture.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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