U.S. Wind Energy Grows 28 Percent in 2012 on $25 Billion Investment


Wind energy grew 28 percent in the United States in 2012, setting a new installation record and confirming its status as a mainstream energy source, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report for 2012, released in April.

In its best year ever, the U.S. industry topped all energy sources with 42 percent of all new U.S. electric generating capacity. Over 6,700 new wind turbines were erected, which produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 3.5 million homes. Overall, America finished the year with 45,100 wind turbines that can power 15.2 million homes.

The bumper crop of wind energy benefited the U.S. economy across all 50 states, through $25 billion in private investment in new U.S. wind farms, tens of millions of dollars paid to landowners and local communities in lease payments and property taxes, and billions in projected savings for electricity consumers.

“We had an incredibly productive year in 2012,” said AWEA interim CEO Rob Gramlich. “It really showed what this industry can do and the impact we can have with a continued national commitment to renewable energy. We’re doing what Americans overwhelmingly say they want: making more clean, renewable energy, and creating good jobs in U.S. factories.” The report found that more than 550 factories across the nation provide parts and services for the wind energy industry, which accounted for more than 80,000 American jobs in 2012.

While jobs numbers were hampered as the year went on by Congress’s delay in renewing the primary incentives for American wind power—the production and investment tax credits—their extension on Jan. 1, 2013, for projects that start this year has sent the industry back to work.

Among project developers, NextEra Energy Resources installed the most new U.S. wind energy capacity in 2012, amassing 1,505MW. Iberdrola Renewables came in a distant second with 716MW of new installed capacity. EDF Renewable Energy, Caithness, and Duke Energy rounded out the top five, with 658MW, 640MW, and 620MW, respectively.

Geographically, Texas extended its lead among states generating wind energy. It also led all the other states in new wind energy installations. The Lone Star State realized the addition of 1,826MW of wind energy, and exceeded 12,000MW of capacity—accounting for more than a fifth of the nation’s wind energy installations. California eclipsed Iowa for second in total installed capacity with the addition of 1,656MW of wind energy capacity. Kansas (1,441MW), Oklahoma (1,127MW), and Illinois (823MW) followed in new 2012 capacity.

On the global scale, the record year for new U.S. wind energy installation narrowly edged the new installations in China (13,000MW), but accounted for just less than 30 percent of global wind energy installations in 2012. New wind energy installations globally in 2012 amounted to 41,236MW.

General Electric maintained its top position as the world’s leading turbine manufacturer, installing 3,003 turbines (5,014MW), amounting to a 44.5 percent market share in number of turbines (38.2 percent share of capacity). Siemens, Vestas, Gamesa, and REpower (Suzlon) rounded out the top five.

In addition to the industry’s record growth last year, a growing trend augured well for its future: new purchases of wind power by 74 electric utilities, along with at least 18 major industrial consumers and 11 school and universities—all taking advantage of the chance to diversify their energy portfolio and stabilize and lower energy costs, typically on long-term, fixed-rate contracts. Rising utility interest has been seen again this year since the PTC extension, with at least seven utilities issuing new requests for proposals to purchase over 1,000MW of wind power.

Top 2012 wind energy industry facts, by the numbers:

• 13,131 – The amount of installed capacity, in megawatts, installed during 2012 in the U.S.
• 60,007 – The amount of total installed capacity to date, in megawatts, in the U.S.
• 25 – The total investment, in billions of dollars, in U.S. wind energy projects during 2012
• 890 – The number of utility-scale wind projects currently operating in the U.S., consisting of more than 45,000 turbines

AWEA Business Members can download their copy of the complete U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report by logging onto the Member Center at www.awea.org.

*Source: American Wind Energy Association; American Wind Energy Association U.S.
Wind Industry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2012.