We’ve recently covered how well wind power is progressing in China and, though the U.S. isn’t currently leading the way for the world in wind power at the moment, data released from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) indicates that wind energy in the U.S. is showing growth, despite a slow economy and “unpredictable policies.”
Statistics from the AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report show that wind is a strong player in the nation’s energy sector, second only to natural gas in new energy generation capacity and responsible for “adding 35% of all new generating capacity since 2007.”. The reason, according to Elizabeth Salerno, Director of Data and Analysis and Chief Economist for AWEA, is that wind energy generation is affordable. Salerno points to the fact that new wind turbine technologies have led to “better performance without a big price tag.”
Wind power’s increased affordability was enhanced by the 1603 investment tax credit program which the AWEA says jump-started new project starts and new manufacturers in 2010. In fact, the industry brought 14 new manufacturing facilities online which is consistent with 2009 numbers The U.S. wind market entered 2011 with 5,600 MW under construction—more than twice the megawatts under construction at the start of 2010. The AWEA credits the extension of the 1603 tax credit in December 2010 for the continued growth that wind power has been experiencing in the U.S.
Wind power is still competing against more conventional energy sources like coal and other fossil fuels and vies for federal funding attention with the likes of solar energy. Denise Bode, CEO of the AWEA, feels that the U.S. still needs to further diversify its energy portfolio. Said Bode: “We know wind is ready to deliver even more of our portfolio with clean, affordable, homegrown power.”