The US has a lot to catch up with in the area of renewable energies. But they do so with an enormous pace, especially in the area of wind-derived electricity. For the fourth year in a row, the U.S has been the worldwide fastest growing market for wind energy.
Worldwide, wind power is the fastest growing energy source, with a growth rate of 29% over the last ten years.It is expected to grow by an astonishing 70% during the next 5 years, with investments costs dropping by about 50% (Global Wind Power Report 2008).
A newly released 2008 Wind Power Technology Markets Report summarizes the most recent development of wind power in the U.S. In 2008 alone, U.S. wind power capacity increased by 60%, totalling investments to $ 16 billion in new wind projects. In spite of this enormous growth, wind power is still providing only 2% of the national electricity supply. This is just above the world-wide average of 1.5%. In contrast, Germany receives about 7%, and Denmark even 19% of its electricity from wind turbines.
The leading U.S. states in wind power supply are Minnesota and Iowa which each derive about 10% of its electricity from wind power. In terms of power capacity, Texas is leading with a capacity of 7118 MW.
The increase in wind energy capacity is of course tightly coupled with an increase in manufacturing investments in wind energy in the U.S. Within just 4 years, the number of wind turbine manufacturers increased from one (GE) to five (GE, Gamesa, Clipper, Acciona, CTC/DeWind). But in spite of the increased investments and production, prices for wind turbine installations continued to increase. Whereas wind energy is still competetive in the U.S., the future might become more challenging if prices do not start to drop soon.
The economic crisis is expected to slow-down the further increase in wind energy production in 2009; but it is expected that the wind energy market will resurge in 2010. Let’s hope those predictions will be true.