Washington, DC, United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] With the fate of a key federal incentive in the balance, the U.S. wind energy industry continued new installations at a rapid pace in the first quarter of 2008, putting 1,400 megawatts (MW) or approximately US $3 billion worth of new generating capacity in place, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in its quarterly market report this week.
The new wind power facilities installed this quarter span 10 states and bring total U.S. wind power capacity to over 18,000 MW. Texas added over half this new capacity and now has well over 5,000 MW installed. Over 4,000 MW of projects are now also under construction nationwide.
Additionally, AWEA reports an increase in the share of U.S.-made wind turbine components — from less than 30% to approximately 50% in three years. Prior to 2005, AWEA estimates that less than a third of components were manufactured domestically. AWEA estimates that, by the end of 2008, approximately half of turbine components for turbines installed in the U.S. will be produced domestically. In 2007 and early 2008, at least 17 manufacturing facilities have been brought online or expanded in the U.S., creating over 4,000 jobs and US $500 million in manufacturing investment.
“These new wind power plants…coupled with investment in 17 new manufacturing facilities over the past year and a quarter show that — with consistent policy support — America’s wind industry can deliver the goods in terms of clean energy and new clean technology jobs,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher.
“But if Congress does not act quickly, this momentum could be derailed at the worst possible time for the economy, placing 76,000 jobs and over US $11.5 billion in investment at risk,” Swisher added.
At previous times when the credit has lapsed (1999, 2001 and 2003), installations have dropped by as much as 93% in the following year.