With a new year upon us, we reflect on the remarkable growth of the wind industry in 2008. The U.S. wind energy industry surpassed all previous records when it installed 8,358 megawatts (MW) of wind energy. This enormous increase boosted the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50%, which invested nearly $17 billion into the United States economy. Furthermore, the wind projects completed in 2008 accounted for a reduction of nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to taking over 7 million cars off of the road. Wind energy generating capacity in the United States now amounts to an astounding 25,170 MW and produces enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 7 million households! It also helps build up our national energy supply with a clean, domestic source of energy.

The state leaders in wind energy generating capacity are ever shifting. Iowa, with 2,790 MW installed, now exceeds California with 2,517 MW. Currently, the top 5 states in terms of installed capacity are now Texas (7,116 MW), Iowa (2,790 MW), California (2,518 MW), Minnesota (1,752 MW), and Washington (1,375 MW). Colorado and Oregon are following close behind, both with over 1,000 MW in of capacity installed.

While the wind industry has an uncertain year ahead due to the nation’s financial situation, it is making significant contributions to the state of the economy. Approximately 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry, which is an increase of 35,000 wind industry jobs in the past year. These jobs are as wide-ranging as turbine component manufacturing, construction and installation, operations and maintenance, legal and marketing services, and many more. Turbine manufacturing jobs witnessed a growth spurt in 2008 as several wind turbine component manufacturing companies opened new production facilities across the country. U.S.-based turbine manufacturing facilities have grown by over 20% since 2005. This resulted in 70 new or announced facilities in the past 2 years and 13,000 new jobs in 2008 alone.

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