The U.S. wind energy industry installed nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind turbines in 2009, increasing its generating capacity by 39%, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The industry group credited the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the record-breaking year, which topped 2008 by nearly 19 percent. AWEA’s fourth-quarter report, released on January 26, places wind power neck-and-neck with natural gas as the leading source of new electricity generation for the country. Together, the two account for about 80 percent of the new capacity added in the country last year. The new wind capacity is enough to serve more than 2.4 million homes.
Overall, the 9,922 MW installed in 2009 brought the total wind power generating capacity in the United States to more than 35,000 MW. Texas strengthened its position as the top state for wind power by installing the most wind capacity in 2009, at 2,292 MW, but Indiana, a relative newcomer, followed in second place by installing 905 MW of wind power. Indiana also featured the largest wind project of the year, the 600-MW Fowler Ridge Wind Farm.
Globally, wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, adding 37.5 gigawatts (GW), according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). China made up for a third of the additions, growing from 12.1 GW in 2008 to 25.1 GW in 2009. That’s an increase of 13 GW, about 31% greater than the wind capacity growth in the United States. The fast pace landed China in third place for total installed wind capacity, falling just behind Germany and about 10 GW behind the United States. Overall, the main markets driving worldwide growth continue to be Asia, North America and Europe, each of which installed more than 10 GW of new wind capacity in 2009.