U.S. wind power generating capacity increased by 27 percent in 2006 and is expected to increase an additional 26 percent in 2007, according to a market forecast released today by the American Wind Energy Association.
The U.S. wind energy industry installed 2,454 megawatts of new generating capacity in 2006, an investment of approximately $4 billion, billing wind as one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country -? second only to natural gas -? for the second year in a row. New wind farms boosted cumulative U.S. installed wind energy capacity by 27 percent to 11,603 MW, well above the 10,000-MW milestone reached in August 2006. One megawatt of wind power produces enough electricity to serve 250 to 300 homes on average each day.
Wind energy facilities currently installed in the U.S. will produce an estimated 31 billion kilowatt-hours annually or enough electricity to serve 2.9 million American homes.
The industry outlook also finds:
- Texas accounted for nearly a third of the new wind power installed in 2006, taking over the lead from California in cumulative installed capacity. Texas hosts the world’s single largest operating wind farm, the 735-MW Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, located in Nolan and Taylor counties.
- Much of the new wind equipment in 2006 was produced in new manufacturing facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Additional announcements are expected in 2007. Investment in manufacturing capability signals confidence in the market and lays the groundwork for expanded growth.
- New utility-scale turbines were installed in a total of 20 states across the country, from Maine to New Mexico to Alaska.
- The top five states in new installations were Texas (774 MW), Washington (428 MW), California (212 MW), New York (185 MW) and Minnesota (150 MW).
A state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects is available on AWEA’s Web site.