The U.S. wind industry installed 6.81 GW of capacity in 2011 – a 31% increase over new capacity added in 2010 – and the fourth quarter alone saw 3.444 GW commissioned – more than the first three quarters of the year combined, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in its report for the fourth quarter of 2011.
These new projects were installed across 30 U.S. states using 23 different turbine manufacturers, AWEA notes.
In 2011, cumulative installed wind capacity in the U.S. grew 17% from 2010 and now totals 46.919 GW.
Over 100 wind projects are currently under construction across 31 states and Puerto Rico. Almost 3.5 GW of new projects broke ground in the fourth quarter of 2011, and the year ended with 8.32 GW under construction, according to AWEA's report.
Illinois was a very strong performer in 2011, ranking No. 2 for installations last year and rising to No. 4 in wind power overall (the only change in the overall top 10), and Kansas topped the under-construction list, with more than 1.188 GW of wind scheduled to come online this year.
California led the list for megawatts installed in 2011, with 921. Other traditional stalwarts like Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma rounded out the top five. Ohio was the fastest-growing wind power state in 2011, with 101 MW installed – representing a more than 900% growth rate.
Meanwhile, South Dakota joined Iowa as the states receiving the highest percentage of their electricity from wind, at 20%.
"This shows what wind power is capable of – building new projects, powering local economies and creating jobs," notes Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. "Traditional tax incentives are working. This tremendous activity is being driven by the federal production tax credit, which leveraged an average of more than $16 billion a year in private investment over the last several years and supported tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs."