Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wind power grew at a record rate last year

The American wind-power industry added 39 percent more capacity in 2009 and now accounts for almost 2 percent of the nation's electricity. The American Wind Energy Association says in its annual report that the 9,900 megawatts of capacity added last year was the largest year-to-year gain on record and up 18 percent from 2008, Jad Mouawad of The New York Times reports. (Times chart)

The group said some of the boost can be attributed to the heavy investment from the federal economic-stimulus package, but warned growth could slow. Denise Bode, the trade association’s chief executive, told Mouawad, "The second half of the year was extraordinary. But manufacturers didn’t see much growth because they had built up so much inventory."

Bode told Mouawad as much new wind capacity was added as new natural-gas power, and the two energy sources accounted for 80 percent of the total new generating capacity added in 2009. The group also reports about half the components used in wind farms are manufactured in the U.S., compared to 25 percent in 2004. "The wind manufacturing sector has the potential to employ many more Americans in green jobs," the group said in the report, "but without a renewable electricity standard to provide a long-term market, the sector will be slow to grow." (Read more)

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