U.S. Wind Power Shows Strong Growth In 2011

Wind energy continues to power ahead in the U.S. Recent numbers from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) show that the fourth quarter of 2011 saw wind power expanding into new states like Ohio and Nevada, while continuing to experience strong growth in the existing wind energy markets of California, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas. Two states, South Dakota and Iowa, are now generating 20 percent of their electricity with wind power.

Overall, the U.S. wind industry installed just over 6,810 megawatts (MW) in 2011—31 percent more than was installed in 2010. While California topped the list, with 921 MW installed last year, the big star of 2011 was Illinois. The state was second in new wind power capacity, and overthrew Minnesota for the No. 4 spot in terms of cumulative installed wind power capacity. This was the only change in the top 10 states from 2010.

massachusetts wind health impact study

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With more than 8,300 MW under construction in 31 states, AWEA says the industry is positioned for another strong showing in 2012. Kansas tops the list of projects under construction, with more than 1,188 MW of wind scheduled to come online in 2012—followed by Texas, California, Oregon and Illinois. Ohio earns the title of fastest-growing wind power state. With 101.5 MW installed in 2011, the state showed a growth rate of over 900 percent. Other fast-growing markets include Vermont, Massachusetts, Idaho and Maryland. More information about the fourth quarter market report can be found here.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).