Wind Energy Surges Despite Fossil-Fuel Lobbying

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Sierra Club. Author credit goes to Dave Hamilton.

Fossil-fuel flacks are out in force declaring that Americans can relax because new natural gas will solve all of our energy problems from here on out. Not only are they spending tens of millions of dollars telling a dangerous fairy tale, but they’re also wrong. This week we got more evidence that clean energy is not only alive and well, but surging.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released its annual report yesterday, and it was chock full of great news. The U.S. wind industry installed 6,816 megawatts (MW) in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010, for a total of 46,916 MW installed in the U.S. to date. And more than 8,300 additional megawatts of wind energy are under construction.

image via Shutterstock

“American wind energy is creating American jobs and affordable electricity all across the country,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode.

South Dakota and Iowa lead a record five states that received more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind in 2011. Seven states have at least 4,000 wind jobs apiece. Kansas tops the list of states for “under construction” wind projects.

Meanwhile, in the past five years, the wind industry has

  • brought in as much as $20 billion annually in private investment to the U.S.
  • created one of the largest providers of new American electric generation, with 35 percent of all new power capacity, right behind natural gas.
  • driven technology advances that have made wind more affordable than ever. A typical wind turbine now generates 30 percent more electricity  — all while driving down costs.
  • created nearly 500 new American manufacturing facilities and employed 75,000 overall, including 30,000 in the manufacturing sector, from coast to coast.

That kind of solid progress can continue and even accelerate. But another banner year hangs in the balance as the Production Tax Credit for wind and other renewable sources edges closer to expiration at the end of this year.

Right now Congress holds the fate of close to 40,000 jobs in its hands as it dithers over whether to approve this valuable policy for clean energy. AWEA, the Sierra Club, and other allies are working hard to move this critical measure forward. You can learn more about that in this blog post.

AWEA also delves into it in their annual report announcement release.

Clean energy is right now — it’s creating jobs and boosting our economy as we speak, demonstrating yet again that our nation can move beyond coal and oil.

The Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. We are working to protect our communities and the planet.

    • Barry A

      Well gas is not a total answer, but part of it.  The wind energy business has been supported by an expensive production tax credit that will expire (I expect) at the end of 2012.  Wind needs feed in tariffs where it is economical or desired.  Federal support is going to dry up since we can’t afford to spend as we have.

      In addition wind does at least at it’s current level require backup generation which is generally hydro or gas.  Wind also is not yet (and probably won’t be for many decades a reliable base line resource.  You can’t get around basic electric grid physics too easily or cheaply at least not yet.