The times they are a changing, and the answer is blowing in the wind. That’s perhaps how Bob Dylan would paraphrase the Year End 2009 Market Report of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which reports that the U.S. wind industry broke all previous records in 2009 by by installing nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity, enough to serve over 2.4 million homes.
Early last year, apparently, the industry was worried that 2009 might see as much as a 50% drop from 2008 wind development levels, with equivalent job losses. But then came Obama’s Recovery Act, which spurred the growth of construction, operations and maintenance, and management jobs in wind development. In 2009, new wind projects kept pace with natural gas as a leading source of new electricity generation for the country, together accounting for 80% of new capacity.
However, not all the news is bright and happy for wind, as the report also notes that U.S. wind turbine manufacturing is down compared to last year’s levels, which does not bode well for new projects in the near future. In a statement, AWEA CEO Denise Bode calls for a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) to provide stability for manufacturers looking to expand their U.S. operations and build up the renewable energy industry. The entire report is available for download (as a .pdf.)