The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) confirmed 2012 as a record-breaking year for wind power in the US with a total of over 13 GW capacity (up from about 10 GW from 2011) installed throughout the country during the year. Also worthy of note is the fact that over 8 GW of the 13 GW came online in the fourth quarter, with wind power also attracting investment to the tune of $25 billion from the private sector.
Further, wind turbines for utility companies were installed throughout 26 states together with Puerto Rico during 2012, with the cumulative capacity of wind power production reaching 60 GW for the very first time and providing electricity for 39 states plus Puerto Rico.
The 60 GW milestone would have been able to power an estimated 15 million US households, comparable to all households in Iowa, Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan, according to AWEA’s Washington D.C. press conference on January 30.
Even more remarkable is the fact that installation of wind power capacity exceeded all other forms of energy generation during the year 2012, with the energy source contributing about 42% of total new energy generation capacity, ahead of natural gas. The states contributing the most in this milestone include California, Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Kansas.
Rob Gramlich, the interim CEO of AWEA, threw more light on the importance of this achievement stating what a remarkable feat it was that renewable energy was the leader in terms of capacity. This, he said, marked how the US was making strides towards instituting a cleaner form of energy generation.
Gramlich added that what is more encouraging is the number of new customers wind power attracted in 2012 – an additional 24 companies, compared to the previous year, owned or bought wind power to make a total of 66 utilities.
Apart from becoming one of the foremost sources of energy generation in the US with a growth of 28 percent in 2012, wind energy is also beneficial to the environment, with the US avoiding almost 96 million tons of CO2 emissions (1.8% of the nation’s emissions) each year with its dependence on wind energy.