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New Energy Secretary, DOE Tout Wind Energy’s Rapid Growth, Continued Job Creation Potential

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Two new reports released by the Energy Department show that wind energy is growing at a record pace.  In 2012, wind energy accounted for 43 percent of all new energy additions and accounted for $25 billion in U.S. investment.  Wind energy is playing a major role in the Obama administration’s push toward clean energy and has created tens of thousands of jobs across the country.  

According to estimates, the wind energy industry employs close to 80,000 Americans.  In the first four years of the Obama administration, American energy coming from the wind and solar industries more than doubled.  If these policies stay the course they can meet the President’s stated goal of doubling again by the year 2020.

According to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz:

“The tremendous growth in the U.S. wind industry over the past few years underscores the importance of consistent policy that ensures America remains a leader in clean energy innovation.  As the fastest growing source of power in the United States, wind is paving the way to a cleaner, more sustainable future that protects our air and water and provides affordable, clean renewable energy to more and more Americans.”

In cooperation with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the energy department released the 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report detailing the latest trends in the U.S. wind power market:

Last year, over 13GW of new wind power capacity were added to the U.S. grid—nearly double the wind capacity deployed in 2011. This tremendous growth helped America’s total wind power capacity surpass 60GW at the end of 2012—representing enough capacity to power more than 15 million homes each year, or as many homes as are in California and Washington state combined. The country’s cumulative installed wind energy capacity has increased more than 22-fold since 2000.

At the same time, the proportion of wind turbine components such as towers, blades, and gears made in America has increased dramatically. The report estimates 72% of the wind turbine equipment installed in the United States last year was made by domestic manufacturers, nearly tripling from 25% in 2006-2007.

The report also finds that nine states now rely on wind power for more than 12% of their total annual electricity consumption, with wind power in Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas contributing more than 20%. Additionally, Texas added over 1,800MW of wind power last year, more than any other state. On a cumulative basis, Texas remains a clear leader with over 12GW installed at the end of 2012—more than twice as much as California, the next-highest state.

For the first time, the Energy Department, in cooperation with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,  issued the 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications.  This is a measure of wind energy that directly supplies power to local grids to improve their reliability and efficiency:

The report finds that distributed wind in the United States reached a 10-year cumulative installed capacity of more than 812MW at the end of 2012—representing more than 69,000 units across all 50 states. Between 2011 and 2012, U.S. distributed wind capacity grew by 175MW, with about 80% of this growth coming from utility-scale installations. At the state level, Iowa, Massachusetts, California and Wisconsin led the nation in new distributed wind power capacity in 2012.

Still, most distributed wind buyers continue to choose small wind turbines, which have a rated capacity of no greater than 100 kilowatts. Last year, domestic sales from U.S. wind suppliers accounted for nearly 90% of new small wind generation capacity. Broadly, nine out of the top ten wind turbine models installed last year in U.S. distributed applications were made in America.

Along with natural gas, increased wind and solar energy will play a major factor in America’s quest to become more energy independent.  If current policies remain in place, wind could remain at the forefront of providing quality jobs while being environmentally responsible and profitable.


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