U.S. wind energy industry installs over 2,800 MW in first quarter — double Q1 2008

Reports of the demise of the clean energy industry have been, well, exaggerated (see “Global recession? Must be time for the media’s alternative-energy backlash“).

The American Wind Energy Association reports:

The wind energy industry installed over 2,800 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in the first quarter of 2009, with new projects completed in 15 states and powering the equivalent of 816,000 homes….

The new wind power projects add up to 2,836 MW, according to initial AWEA estimates.  The total wind power generating capacity in operation in the U.S. is now 28,206 MW, enough to serve over 8 million homes and avoid the emissions of 52 million tons of carbon dioxide annually””the equivalent of removing 8.8 million cars from the road.

And this is after a record 2008 (see “U.S. wind energy grows by record 8,300 MW“). Here is where states now rank by wind capacity:

* Texas  7,907 MW
* Iowa  2,883 MW
* California 2,653 MW
* Minnesota 1,804 MW
* Washington 1,479 MW
* Oregon 1,363 MW
* New York 1,261 MW
* Colorado 1,068 MW
* Kansas 1,014 MW

California third?  Who ever would have imagined?

Indiana remains the fastest growing state with a large 400-MW project was brought online.   The states with the most rapid growth in wind capacity in Q1:

* Indiana 75%
* Maine 55%
* Nebraska 53%
* Idaho 49%
* New York 34%

Is any other part of the energy industry adding capacity and jobs like wind?  Looks like it is still braggin’ time for wind!

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18 Responses to U.S. wind energy industry installs over 2,800 MW in first quarter — double Q1 2008

  1. Aaron says:

    Not sure what the sarcasm is for carl. You think we’d be better off finding the power elsewhere? No technology works perfectly. And com on, enough power generated to supply electricity to 800,000 homes is no small feet.

  2. While we are counting accomplishments, we should note the announcement by Amory Lovins’ RMI project:
    Indiana’s Bright Automotive is set to turn Rocky Mountain Institute’s lightweight, hyper-efficient vehicle concept into reality.

    Today, the start-up vehicle company, which launched out of RMI last year, is unveiling the IDEA–a 100 mpg equivalent plug-in hybrid concept vehicle–in Washington DC. By 2012, Bright expects to begin producing 50,000 IDEAs a year, thereby creating over 5,000 jobs by 2013.

    To achieve such groundbreaking fuel efficiency, Bright Automotive is maximizing platform efficiency–incorporating lightweight materials, advanced aerodynamics and low-rolling resistance tires to use less combined energy.

    On a full charge, the IDEA will operate in all-electric mode for the first 30 miles before switching to hybrid mode for a full range of 400 miles. For a typical drive of 50 miles, the vehicle consumes ½ gallon of gasoline – equivalent to 100 mpg fuel efficiency.

    Wow. 100 MPG from a van.

  3. Dean says:

    Nice to see that my state is number 5. I wrote our governor last year asking about improving transmission so that we could build a whole lot more in the eastern part of the state. They sent me a detailed report examining the various challenges for reaching 20%. The technical integration issues were not bad any time soon, though would get worse as we get closer to 20%, and would also drive up the cost – with existing technology.

    The more serious challenges were financing. Utilities have highly regulated pricing systems for how they pass their costs on the rate-payers, and those systems are based on traditional utilities – where paying for fuel is a large and ongoing cost. Changing these rules to match the cost structure of wind is a bureaucratic and time-consuming project with slow rule-writing processes.

    However, last I heard, some new bills to streamline the permitting process for smaller installations was sailing through the legislature almost unanimously, with some environmental groups being the primary opposition (aesthetics, views, wildlife impact, etc).

  4. David B. Benson says:

    Off-topic, but

    Leland — I can’t find a link to the tests by Jupiter Oxygen Corporation you wrote about. This link
    is undated, but seems to describe an earilier test. Could you please provide the link? Thank you.

  5. Neil Howes says:

    Very good news after all the statements that wind financing has dried up.
    This would mean that wind energy now provides 2%of US electricity(assuming 0.33 capacity factor; 82,000 GW out of 4,114,000 GW).

    I don’t think the 20% wind has any special significance just because Denmark has reached 20% wind. Will see soon enough as states like Iowa are approaching this level now.

  6. And another triumph of the plug-in automobile, core climate solution, is a breakthrough from Fisker Automotive. At 100 MPG, personal cars could fall well behind power plants as the worst emission sources in the USA.

    The Fisker site announced, “The Karma uses Q-DRIVE plug-in hybrid technology, developed exclusively for Fisker Automotive by Quantum Technologies. A fully-charged Karma burns no fuel for the first 50 miles. Venture further and the gasoline engine turns a generator to charge the lithium ion battery. Once the 50-mile electric range has been exceeded, the car operates as a normal hybrid vehicle. This balance of electric and gas range makes it entirely possible that Karma drivers who charge their car overnight and commute less than 50 miles a day will achieve an average fuel economy of 100 mpg (2.4L/100km) per year. “

  7. Jay Alt says:

    . AWEA report, cover page –
    ‘The U.S. wind industry installed over 2,800 MW of new wind capacity in the third quarter of the year, bringing the total installed capacity to over 28,200 MW overall. Some 3,400 MW more are under construction for completion this year or next year.’

    If the upcoming 3,400 KW are all that are in the pipeline for the next 18 months, it means a significant drop in construction has already taken place.

  8. Will Greene says:

    Dean, cover the whole Palouse with windmills! The cougs won’t mind.

    I’m guessing getting the transmission lines over the Cascades could be a problem. We can get to 20% though, we have the political will in Olympia. Washington already gets over 60% from dams, we could legitimately be a carbon-free electricity state by 2020.

  9. Harrier says:

    Texas should have a full 10 Gigawatts of wind power by the end of this year. And the legislature has been pushing legislation that would expand our state’s solar power industry too.

    Considering Texas is the most carbon-heavy state in the union, weaning it entirely off of fossil fuels would be no small boon. I take pride as a Texan in our pioneering wind power efforts.

  10. Dean says:

    Note that even if the energy Iowa produces with wind is 20% of its consumption, that doesn’t mean that it is consuming it and dealing with that level of wind integration. I live in the Columbia River Gorge and a lot of wind energy is produced nearby but my utility says that I’m not consuming any wind energy. They sell it all to somebody else. I’m guessing that a lot of the wind energy produced in Iowa is being consumed in the greater Chicago area.

    In the west, with the spread of renewable mandates, utilities want to buy wind energy where ever they can. It has the potential for creating a separate market price if production of wind energy doesn’t keep up.

  11. Tyler says:

    I love wind, but can we keep these measurements to megawatt-hours instead of megawatts? Since wind isn’t dispatchable it makes more sense to measure how much fossil-fuel energy is displaced over, say, a year.

    28,000 MW isn’t real.

    [JR: No. Construction is reported in MW and the MW-hrs don’t show up until well past this data is reported — indeed IEA has a several month lag. I certainly do report on electricity production — see the “bragging time” post. But these are key stats for people to know and 28 GW is quite, quite real. Readers of this blog have certainly been informed — if they didn’t know already — that wind has a lower capacity factor, say, around 35%.]

  12. Mary says:

    I’m sorry to see that Missouri is not on the list of states taking part in this program. Kansas City adopted a Climate Protection Plan in 2006. Part of this plan is to conserve and find new renewable energy sources. This one area would be a great program to push through our state. As stated in the article “The total wind power generating capacity in operation in the U.S. is now 28,206 MW, enough to serve over 8 million homes and avoid the emissions of 52 million tons of carbon dioxide annually—the equivalent of removing 8.8 million cars from the road.”, this is nothing to sneeze at and if states are serious about finding new alternative energy sources, then we need to be looking into this if we are wanting to make changes in our cities.

  13. Bill Woods says:

    Harrier: “Texas should have a full 10 Gigawatts of wind power by the end of this year.”

    Texas currently has more wind power than it can handle:

    “Data from the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for that state, shows that occurrences of negative prices in the western part of Texas have rapidly increased in frequency as wind development has soared in the area while transmission links to other parts of the state have failed to keep up. Prices fell below US -$30/MWh (megawatt-hour) on 63% of days during the first half of 2008, compared to 10% for the same period in 2007 and 5% in 2006. If prices fall far enough below zero that the cost for a wind plant to continue operating is higher than the value of the US $20/MWh federal renewable electricity production tax credit plus the value of other state incentives, wind plant operators will typically curtail the output of their plants.”

  14. Dean says:

    The situation in Texas is an example of how having more wind production doesn’t just mean building and installing turbines. Generation is only one part of providing electricity. Lots of wind isn’t the only reason there is a lot of turbines in my region – the Columbia River dams (sic – it’s actually now a series of lakes in between the dams which are at roughly 30 mile intervals) mean that extensive transmission resources are here already that tie into the western grid.

    As wind and any other technology gets past the “trivial” level, addressing the complete system is required, and it is necessary to prevent one part of it from getting ahead of the other. It’s pretty widely known that transmission is the growing bottleneck, and while efforts are being made to address that, various permitting and construction processes aren’t all that fast.

    One reason that turbines have been sprouting so fast is that they have been shown to be a boon to rural economies, thus making it easy to build a consensus across the political spectrum. So far, transmission lines haven’t benefited from that fast-tracking. If transmission and pricing regimen issues aren’t resolved quickly, it will be difficult for wind to keep it’s breakneck growth pace.

    A lot of alternatives advocates have focused their political energy on production mandates. They also need to look at these other “integration” issues. There is no technological reason that wind can’t generate 20% of our electricity by 2020 or 2030, but there are many process hurdles that must be negotiated efficiently to do so. If we can, it will also clear the way for solar as it matures, since I would assume many of the integration issues are the same.

  15. Jim Beacon says:

    Honestly, I do wish everyone was concentrating more on solar power (with thermal storage). The long-term baseload potential there is so much higher than it can ever be with wind. We should do wind, of course, where the *consistent* winds are strongest, but this idea that we should start throwing up wind towers everywhere is misplaced — and it means spending a lot of money that will not be rewarded with the same level of electrical production we would get from putting that money into solar-thermal, even with a smart grid (which is at least 10 to 15 years away).

    But wind turbines, with the cool pictures of the tall towers and the gigantic white blades looming majestically into the sky, have captured the media and public fancy right now and so the herd followers in the corporate investment world and the government are all buzzing about wind power. The Obama administration is now even pushing to build offshore wind towers. There are so many reasons why this is a foolish idea that will cost way too much for way too little production that I can’t go into it here. Yes, there is tremendous energy potential offshore, but the technology to harness wave-energy (not tidal energy) for electricity production already exists and can be deployed for a whole lot less than off-shore wind towers (and wave generation is much closer to 24/7 baseload capability than offshore wind is). Unfortunately, because this technology is not “in fashion”, no one in the current administration seems interested in funding it. See:

    …and then check out their press release at the same site dated Feb. 6, 2009 which explains that they have canceled the deployments they already had in the pipeline to concentrate on (government-funded) wind projects instead. This is a long-term tragedy for cause of CO2 control, but has gone completely unreported in the media.

    It’s true that you can get some wind turbines thrown up faster and cheaper than just about anything else, which makes it attractive at first glance, but I am having a hard time finding reliable information on how much actual power they have been getting out of the existing wind farms which have been in production for many years now. How much do they really generate in real-world operation? Where are the graphs and charts? Also, I have not found much in the way of reporting about the on-going maintenance costs of wind farms. Plenty of projections and estimates, yes, but actual real-world data, no. I would welcome any links to where such real-world, historic data can be found.

    Yes, the industry always quotes wind farm capacity in terms of total potential production, but we all know that is a public-relations ploy and essentially dishonest because NO wind turbine EVER generates its total production capability for more than a few hours at a time. To continue to quote the “installed capacity” in this way is to pretend that a wind farm behaves exactly like a coal-fired or nuclear power plant, cranking out the same amount of peak electricity 24/7. It just ain’t so and since we all know it, why are we still pretending? This disingenuous approach is a disservice to the industry and the reputation of clean energy reporters and advocates. The industry must have enough real-world production data at this point to quote a much more realistic estimate of actual delivered power generation on a new installation, but they don’t. I’m surprised the deniers haven’t jumped all over this “little white lie” the industry continues to put out in its press releases. It’s probably only because they are too dumb to do the math, but one of these days they’re going to figure it out and it will become an embarrassment and do genuine damage to the clean energy movement in the publics mind.

    Bottom line is that we need to get over our infatuation with all those cool towers with their big white blades striding across the horizon. The money should be going into solar-thermal and wave-generation, with wind towers only installed where it is really worthwhile to do so.

  16. Jim Beacon,

    You can see today and any other day, hour by hour at

    Today wind is running about 20% to 40% in Ontario. Ontario has had a very aggressive wind energy program for the last 8-10 years.

    The cost of these land towers remains elusive, reminiscent of experiences in the 1970s. Having some experience with building things in the ocean, whatever these land things cost, it will be far far costlier to build them to stand ocean conditions. Building for both storm survival and corrosion damage prevention could run the cost up by a factor of 10. We should look carefully at any propositions saying otherwise.

  17. David B. Benson says:

    Will Greene — Not windy enough (most of the time) in the Palouse for windmills. Other parts of Washington State have better wind conditions and so actually WA is one of the more major wind powered states.

  18. Jay Alt says:

    Survey of renewable energy sector

    “Nothing Congress does in the stimulus bill can put the market back where it was in 2007 and 2008, before it was broken,”

    [JR: Looks like the NYT isn’t always right. Go figure!]