Twenty-four states opened, expanded or announced new wind turbine and component manufacturing facilities in 2008, according to an annual study by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). A key finding of the wind energy industry rankings report reveals that wind energy leaders in several categories maintained their number one positions even as other leaders emerged in new categories.
The wind industry continued to make strides in 2008. Approximately 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry, which is a 70 percent increase from 50,000 a year ago, according to the study. New jobs can be found in turbine component manufacturing, construction and installation of wind turbines, wind turbine operations and maintenance, and legal and marketing services.
An earlier report released by AWEA indicated that the industry had over 21,000 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity up and running, surpassing the amount generated in 2007.
The new listings, based on 2008 year-end numbers, reveal Texas leading in wind capacity with 7,118 MW of installed capacity. Other key findings show Minnesota (1,754 MW) and Iowa (2,791 MW) both generating over 7 percent of their electricity from wind, and Indiana tallied up the fastest growth in wind on a percentage basis, expanding capacity from zero to 131 MW.
Company rankings remain virtually unchanged. NextEra Energy Resources (formerly FPL Energy) continues to lead in wind farm ownership, with 6,290 MW of wind power assets, roughly 25 percent of the total installed in the U.S. GE Energy remained the wind turbine maker with the largest amount of new capacity installed, accounting for 43 percent of all new capacity installations. Xcel Energy ranks number one in investor-owned utilities in wind power.
AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in order to continue growth in the wind industry, the right policies are needed. AWEA supports a National Renewable Electricity Standard that requires utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. She said it is necessary to provide the long-term, U.S.-wide commitment businesses need to invest tens of billions of dollars in clean energy installations and manufacturing facilities, and to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs.
Click here for a state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects.