Thanks, in part, to the looming expiration of the federal production tax credit, the U.S. wind energy industry installed 13.124 GW of capacity in 2012, eclipsing the previous record of 10 GW installed in 2009, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports.
In the fourth quarter of 2012 alone, more than 8.3 GW of wind was installed, making it the strongest quarter in the history of U.S. wind power. Putting the fourth quarter into perspective, the amount beat every yearly total except for 2009.
AWEA also reported that, for the first time, wind energy became the No. 1 source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, providing 42% of all new generating capacity.
In state news, California regained its position as the second largest state in installed wind capacity, surpassing Iowa.
Illinois had its most successful year ever. Ranking number five in new capacity, Illinois saw the installation of over 800 MW, with half that output sold into the Tennessee Valley Authority market.
Top states for new capacity installations in 2012 include:
- Texas (1,826 MW)
- California (1,656 MW)
- Kansas (1,440 MW)
- Oklahoma (1,127 MW)
- Illinois (823 MW)
- Iowa (814 MW)
- Oregon (640 MW)
- Michigan (611 MW)
- Pennsylvania (550 MW)
- Colorado (496 MW)
AWEA also reported that new wind power purchasers included at least 18 industrial buyers, 11 schools and universities, and eight towns or cities, showing a significant trend toward nontraditional power purchasers from the industrial sector. Manufacturers of everything from plastics to light bulbs to semiconductors, as well as farms and medical centers are now directly purchasing wind power, AWEA notes.
Notably, AWEA says total U.S. capacity surpassed 60 GW – just five months after reaching 50 GW installed.