American Wind Power Now Generates
by Carl Levesque
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Impressive numbers from the wind industry's record-breaking 2012 continued to come out this week with the news that American wind power generation shot up 17 percent last year, producing more than 10 percent of the electricity in nine states, up from the five that hit double digits in 2011.
Those numbers are likely to continue growing as new investments and wind projects are announced, AWEA said. Across the country, wind energy produced 3.5 percent of the nation's electricity during 2012, according to the Energy Information Admiration's (EIA) latest figures.
"With wind power serving as the number one source of new generating capacity in 2012, it's no surprise that wind energy is increasing its role in the overall U.S. power mix," said Elizabeth Salerno, director of industry data & analysis at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The growth in wind energy in the U.S. can also be seen in its increasing role in the generation mix of individual states. Iowa and South Dakota reached generation levels greater than 20 percent throughout the entire year of 2012. In a total of 14 states, American wind energy provides 5 percent or more of generation.
Iowa was ranked first in wind generation, with 24.5 percent generation from wind energy. South Dakota was a close second with 23.9 percent generation from wind energy. North Dakota and Minnesota ranked third and fourth, respectively, both in the 14 percent range. Kansas, which doubled its installation of wind power during 2012, jumped ahead to No. 5 position in wind generation, surpassing the 10 percent mark, reaching 11.4 percent generation from wind energy.
While the top 10 tends to garner the most attention, what's equally telling is the holder of the spot just beyond the top 10 -- Texas. Ranked at number 11, the giant state uses the most electricity. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) power grid got 9.2 percent of its electrical generation last year from wind. Not surprisingly when considering the state's size and wind percent, Texas boasts more wind power than any other state, with more than 12,000 MW installed -- over a fifth of the 60,000 MW in the United States at the end of last year.
Here's a look at the top 20:"We are generating enough clean, affordable, American wind energy to power the equivalent of almost 15 million homes, or the number in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio combined," said Salerno.
- Iowa, 24.5%
- South Dakota, 23.9%
- North Dakota, 14.7%
- Minnesota, 14.3%
- Kansas, 11.4%
- Colorado, 11.3%
- Idaho, 11.3%
- Oklahoma, 10.5%
- Oregon, 10.0%
- Wyoming, 8.8%
- Texas, 7.4%
- New Mexico, 6.1%
- Maine, 5.9%
- Washington, 5.8%
- California, 4.9%
- Montana, 4.5%
- Illinois, 3.9%
- Nebraska, 3.7%
- Hawaii, 3.6%
- Indiana, 2.8%
The geographic diversity and abundance of American wind installations is a reflection of the U.S.'s strong wind resource. In a 2010 study, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported that there are over 10 million MW of wind resource in the U.S.--enough to meet the equivalent of the nation's total electricity needs 10 times over. In fact, 25 states have enough wind potential to supply as much electricity as is currently generated from all energy sources in their state.
Overall, the U.S. wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012, installing a record 13,124 MW of electric generating capacity, leveraging $25 billion in private investment, and achieving over 60,000 MW of cumulative wind capacity.
In this historic year of achievement, wind energy for the first time became the number one source of new U.S. electric generating capacity, providing some 42 percent of all new generating capacity. Renewable energy as a whole accounted for over 55 percent of all new U.S. generating capacity in 2012.
Note that the statistics count megawatt-hours generated in a state as going to that state. For a state like California, which may be importing wind, these totals are lower than the total renewable energy used to comply with the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard.
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