The U.S. wind industry broke all previous records by installing nearly 10,000 MW (9,922 MW) of new generating capacity in 2009, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). However, manufacturing investment and jobs still lag behind.
‘The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon and protecting consumers,’ said AWEA CEO Denise Bode in statement. ‘But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing is down compared to last year's levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow.’
AWEA says the new projects help wind power keep pace with natural gas as the leading source of new electricity generation for the country. Together, the two sources account for about 80% of the new capacity added in the country last year.
According to AWEA, the catalyst for the record-breaking year is a direct result of incentives from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Before the passage of ARRA, the industry anticipated that in 2009 wind power development might drop by as much as 50% from 2008 levels.
Conversely, AWEA says the lack of a long-term policy and market signal allowed investment in the manufacturing sector to drop compared to 2008, with 33% fewer wind power manufacturing facilities online, announced and expanded in 2009.
The result was net job losses in the manufacturing sector, which was compounded by low orders and high inventory.
AWEA says the recently announced manufacturing incentives will help but need to be supplemented with the hard targets of a national renewable electricity standard.
With 4,041 MW completed, this fourth quarter of 2009 was the strongest in the year but still lower than the fourth quarter of 2008.
The 9,922 MW installed last year expand the nation's wind plant fleet by 39% and bring total wind power generating capacity in the U.S to over 35,000 MW.
Texas maintained its lead as the No. 1 state for installed capacity at 9,410 MW installed. The remainder of the top five: Iowa (3,670 MW installed), California (2,794 MW), Washington (1,980 MW) and Minnesota (1,809 MW).