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US wind grows by nearly 8.4 GW in 2008

The US wind energy industry installed 8,358 MW of new generating capacity in 2008, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has reported. The outlook for 2009 is less certain, however, due to the continuing financial crisis.

The massive growth in 2008 increased the country’s total wind power generating capacity by 50% and channeled an investment of around US$17 billion into the economy. Wind is now one of the leading sources of new power generation in the USA alongside natural gas. At year’s end, however, financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed to a trickle and layoffs began to hit the wind turbine manufacturing sector.

“Our numbers are both exciting and sobering,” says AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The US wind energy industry’s performance in 2008 confirms that wind is an economic and job creation dynamo, ready to deliver on the President’s call to double renewable energy production in three years. At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development. We are already seeing layoffs in the area where wind’s promise is greatest for our economy: the wind power manufacturing sector. Quick action in the stimulus bill is vital to restore the industry’s momentum and create jobs...”

The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally last year, according to initial estimates.

Total wind energy generating capacity in the USA now stands at 25,170 MW and around 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry today.

The top five states in terms of capacity installed are now:

  • Texas: 7116 MW
  • Iowa: 2790 MW
  • California: 2517 MW
  • Minnesota: 1752 MW
  • Washington: 1375 MW

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