Wind Power Blowing Up a Storm
Use of wind power continues to increase as generating capacity rises.
Wind power is blowing away the competition. The nation’s wind power generating capacity increased by 27 percent in 2006, and the capacity is expected to increase by another 26 percent this year, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The organization reports the installation of 2,454 megawatts of new generating capacity, an investment of about $4 billion. The 2006 numbers establish wind as the second largest source of new power generation in the United States for the second year in a row. The top spot is held by natural gas.
New wind farms increased the cumulative capacity to 11,603 megawatts of energy, bypassing the 10,000-megawatt milestone achieved in August 2006. One megawatt of wind power can fill the energy needs of 250 to 300 homes. More than 61 percent of the total wind power capacity in the United States has occurred since 2001.
Current wind facilities produce an estimated 31 billion kilowatt-hours each year, enough electricity to serve 2.9 million U.S. homes, which displaces about 23 million tons of carbon dioxide.
AWEA also has ranked the 2006 investments, including states that generate the most electricity from wind, the largest owners of wind projects, utilities that use the most wind power and other industry information. Texas leads the states in wind generation of electricity and is home to the nation’s largest wind farm. General Electric tops the list for suppliers of wind turbines, according the annual U.S. Wind Power Rankings.
For more information, visit AWEA’s Web site at www.AWEA.org. A Department of Energy report on wind power is available at www.NREL.gov/docs/fy07osti/41435.pdf.