U.S. Continues To Lead World In Wind Power Growth

June 04, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2007 edition of its Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost, and Performance Trends, which provides a comprehensive overview of developments in the rapidly evolving U.S. wind power market.

Notably, the report finds that U.S. wind power capacity increased by 46% in 2007, with $9 billion invested in U.S. wind plants in 2007 alone, making the U.S. the fastest-growing wind power market in the world for the third straight year. The report also showed that wind is on a path to becoming a significant contributor to the U.S. power mix – wind projects accounted for 35% of all new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2007, and transmission facilities capable of generating a total of over 200 GW of wind power are in the early stages of development throughout the nation.

"As we work to implement President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative by increasing the use of domestic, clean, and affordable renewable energy, we are eager to continue the trend of increasing the use of wind power at unprecedented rates," DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said. "Following on the heels of a detailed analysis by DOE and its partners of the technical and economic feasibility of using wind to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030, this record-shattering year of wind additions shows that wind power is already one of the most important, emission-free sources of energy being deployed to address climate change and improve our energy security."

First issued last year, the report analyzes developments in the wind market, including trends in wind installations, turbine size, turbine prices, installed project costs, project performance, wind power prices, and cost comparisons between wind power and conventional generation. It also describes developer consolidation trends, current ownership and financing structures, and trends among major wind power purchasers. By consolidating these data in a single, publicly-available document, DOE hopes to provide a valuable resource to industry participants, energy regulators, and state and local policymakers.

According to the report, the U.S. is the fastest-growing wind market worldwide. The U.S. has led the world in new wind capacity for three straight years, and 1.2% of the nation’s electricity supply could be met with the wind capacity on line at the end of 2007. The report also notes that market growth is spurring manufacturing investments in the U.S. Several major foreign wind turbine manufacturers either opened or announced new U.S. wind turbine manufacturing plants in 2007. New and existing U.S.-based manufacturers also either initiated or scaled-up production. All told, the new turbine and component manufacturing facilities opened or announced in 2007 could create more than 4,700 new jobs in the U.S.