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DOE Reports on Development of Wind Energy

wind-energyThe US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a report detailing the advancement of wind power in the United States through 2012.  It explores some of the growth that wind power industry has experienced over the past decade and highlights the particulars of 2012, which appears to have been a stellar year for the wind power industry.

Generation

In 2012, the US added 13 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity, bringing the total US wind capacity to 60 GW.  This would generate enough electricity to power 15 million homes. By comparison, in 2000 there was less than 3 GW capacity for wind energy in the US.  The monumental growth has been propelled both by government initiative and private consumer demand.  In his State of the Union Address outline earlier this year, President Obama called for another doubling of renewable capacity by 2020.

Nine states now rely on wind energy for more than 12 percent of their energy consumption.  Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas all draw at least 20 percent of their consumption from wind power.  In terms of available capacity, Texas led the nation with 1.8 GW of wind power capacity added in 2012, bringing total capacity up to 12 GW.  Texas alone represents 20 percent of the nation’s total wind capacity.

Production

Production of wind power technology has also grown to meet the demands of increased generation.  The wind power generation industry boasts over 80,000 jobs from manufacturing facilities through the supply chain, as well as engineers and R&D experts.

The American wind power industry supports itself.  72 percent of wind turbine equipment installed in the US last year was made by American manufacturers, and nine out of the top ten turbine models were made by American companies.

The manufacturing numbers look even better for smaller producers and consumers.  For local grid and individual consumer sized production, 90 percent of small capacity projects are produced exclusively in the US.

The report also touches on the state of research and development in the wind power industry; technical advancements and design improvements have made wind turbines viable in less windy areas, and the average energy capacity of a turbine has increased by 170 percent since 1998.

Moving Forward

Public and private investments over the past decade have made wind power energy the most common source of new US electric generation.  The US Congress has signaled its continued dedication to wind and other renewable sources by introducing the STORAGE Act, aimed at securing the status of renewable by encouraging research into more efficient energy storage.  Initiatives like this coupled with an increasing private demand for clean and efficient energy look to keep wind power production growing into the future.

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