The U.S. wind energy industry is expanding as established industry leaders maintain their top position and manufacturing continues to grow, albeit at a slower rate than in 2008, according to the annual wind industry market report released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). This year's report features new categories for offshore wind power and educational and training programs, as well as expanded information under previously existing categories, such as manufacturing and project updates.
Highlights from AWEA's new report include the following:
– The U.S. wind energy industry installed over 10,000 MW of new wind power generating capacity in 2009 – the highest annual total in U.S. history – and enough to power the equivalent of 2.4 million homes or generate as much electricity as three large nuclear power plants.
– In industry rankings, GE Energy remained No. 1 in U.S. wind turbine sales; NextEra Energy Resources continued to lead in wind farm ownership; and Xcel Energy continued to lead utilities in wind power usage. At the same time, however, more companies are now active in each of these areas, showing that the wind energy market is diversifying as it expands.
– The report's section on manufacturing shows that in spite of a slowdown in wind turbine manufacturing in 2009 compared to 2008, 10 new manufacturing facilities came online in the U.S. last year, 20 were announced and nine facilities were expanded. The largest category was wind turbine sub-components, such as bearings, electrical components and hydraulic systems. In all, the U.S. wind energy industry opened, announced or expanded over 100 facilities in the past three years (2007 to 2009), bringing the total of wind turbine component manufacturing facilities now operating in the U.S. to over 200.
– Approximately 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry today and hold jobs in areas as varied as turbine component manufacturing; construction and installation of wind turbines; wind turbine operations and maintenance; legal and marketing services; transportation and logistical services; and more.