A Banner Year for the U.S. Wind Industry
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from energy.gov.
Today, the Energy Department and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released a new report highlighting strong growth in America’s wind energy market in 2011 and underscoring the importance of continued policy support and clean energy tax credits to ensure that the U.S. remains a leading producer and manufacturer in this booming global industry.
As President Obama has made clear, we need an all-of-the-above approach to American energy and the U.S. wind industry is a critical part of this strategy. In fact, wind energy contributed 32 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions last year, representing $14 billion in new investment.
In the United States, domestic clean energy production and manufacturing competitiveness work hand-in-hand. The report finds total U.S. wind power capacity grew to 47,000 megawatts by the end of 2011 and has since grown to 50,000 megawatts, enough to power 12 million homes annually -- as many homes as in the entire state of California. And as wind energy capacity has grown, more and more wind turbines and components like towers, blades, gears, and generators are “Made in America.” Nearly 70 percent of all of the equipment installed at U.S. wind farms last year came from domestic manufacturers, doubling from 35 percent in 2005.
This summer, Energy Department leaders have traveled across the country and seen first hand how American workers and businesses are helping maintain U.S. leadership in the growing wind energy industry. In Iowa, Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Company has seen orders from the wind industry grow from almost nothing a decade ago to nearly 22 percent of gross sales, while, at ACCIONA Windpower’s West Branch assembly plant more than 100 workers are making wind turbines to sell here in the U.S. and around the world. Near Minneapolis, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 343 Union facility features a 60-foot turbine tower to help train union members for new construction, installation, and maintenance jobs.
In addition to strong gains in domestic wind manufacturing and capacity, the report finds that as wind technology improves, costs are coming down. Technological innovations are helping make longer and lighter wind turbine blades, while improving turbine performance and increasing the efficiency of power generation. At the same time, wind project capital and maintenance costs have continued to decline.
Smart investments are paying dividends across the U.S. wind industry. From Des Moines to Amarillo to Denver, the American clean energy economy is hard at work – creating jobs right now and ensuring our global competitiveness in the clean energy technologies of the future. We can’t afford to break this momentum.
This is why the Obama Administration is calling for the extension of the production tax credit (PTC). Our continued support of clean energy policies like the PTC are mission critical for America’s thriving, competitive wind industry -- and shows, more than ever, the promise to create the high-paying American jobs and nationwide economic growth our country needs.