US leads the world in wind power

by Published Wed 12 Aug 2009 10:19, Last updated: 2009-08-12
Another US wind turbine to be constructed

The US has the fastest-growing wind power market in the world for the fourth consecutive year, according to a research report.

The US Department of Energy revealed the nation's grid-connected wind power capacity increased by 60 percent in 2008, reflecting investments totalling £9.75 billion in new wind projects.

And so far this year, the US wind has installed a further 4,000MW of wind power, up on the 2,900MW connected to the grid by the same time last year.

According to report author Ryan Wiser, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, wind power now provides almost two percent of North America's electricity supply.

And the researcher revealed that wind projects now account for 42 percent of all new electric generating capacity, and added: “At this pace, wind is on a path to becoming a significant contributor to the US power mix.”

Some of the other key findings of the 2008 'Wind Technologies Market Report include:

* The US is the fastest-growing wind market worldwide. The US has led the world in new wind capacity since it overtook Germany in 2004 to take the lead in cumulative wind capacity installations.

* Growth is distributed across much of the US. Texas leads the nation with 7,118MW of new wind capacity, but 13 states had more than 500MW of wind capacity as of the end of 2008, with seven topping 1,000MW and three topping 2,000MW. Over 10 percent of the electricity generation in Iowa and Minnesota now comes from wind power.

* Market growth is developing manufacturing investments in the US. Several major foreign wind turbine manufacturers either opened or announced new US wind turbine manufacturing plants in 2008.

* The number of utility-scale wind turbine manufacturers assembling turbines in the US increased from just one in 2004 (GE) to five in 2008 (GE, Gamesa, Clipper, Acciona, CTC/DeWind).

* Wind turbine prices and installed project costs continued to increase into 2008. Near the end of 2008 and into 2009, however, turbine prices have weakened in response to reduced demand for wind power due to the financial crisis.

* Wind project performance has improved over time, but has levelled off in recent years. The longer-term improvement in project performance has been driven in part by taller towers and larger rotors, enhanced project siting and technological advancements.

* Wind remained economically competitive in 2008. Despite rising project costs, in recent years wind has consistently been priced at or below the price of conventional electricity, as reflected in wholesale power prices. With wholesale prices plummeting in recent months, however, the economic position of wind in the near-term has become more challenging.

* Expectations are for a slower year in 2009, in large part due to the global recession. Projections among industry prognosticators range from 4,400MW to 6,800MW of wind likely to be installed in the US in 2009. After a slower 2009, most predictions show market resurgence in 2010 and continuing for the immediate future.

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