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Even with economic headwind, U.S. still adds 4,000 MW of new wind — and a dozen new factories

By Joe Romm

"Even with economic headwind, U.S. still adds 4,000 MW of new wind — and a dozen new factories"

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Wind 2009 2q

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,210 megawatts (MW) of new power generating capacity in the second quarter, bringing the total added this year to just over 4,000 MW -  an amount larger than the 2,900 MW added in the first six months of 2008, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today in its second quarter (Q2) market report [click here].

And this is after a record 2008 (see “U.S. wind energy grows by record 8,300 MW“), which in turn made this country the global wind leader. AWEA’s press release notes:

The state posting the fastest growth in the 2nd quarter was Missouri, where wind power installations expanded by 90%.

Missourians know that in order for us to grow our state’s economy and create the jobs of the twenty-first century, we must embrace new technology and advances like the ones presented to us through renewable wind energy,” said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. “So I’m proud that the American Wind Energy Association’s quarterly report shows no state has capitalized on these growth opportunities more aggressively over the last three months than Missouri has.  But that isn’t enough.  Missouri will continue to look for ways to enhance our energy supply and independence by using common-sense and cost effective expansions of clean, renewable wind power.”

Paging Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) — your vote is needed on a climate and clean energy bill.  As is the vote of members from other fast growing wind states:

Pennsylvania and South Dakota ranked second and third in terms of growth rate in the second quarter, expanding by 28% and 21% respectively.

With growth like this comes more than a dozen new and expanding factories around the country — and the jobs they bring:

Wind manufacturing 2009

AWEA explains what this means for clean energy jobs:

New installations will generate approximately 1,000 construction jobs in Q2 and a projected 4,500 construction jobs for 2009 in its entirety. The wind industry in the U.S. currently employs 85,000 people but could be cut by half without a strong RES in place, meaning a loss of more than 40,000 jobs in an already depressed economy.

And while EIA projects wind at 5% of U.S. electricity in 2012, all renewables at 14%, thanks to Obama stimulus, even that is not a sure thing in this economic and financial meltdown.

While the pace of new wind farm installations and manufacturing announcements is substantial, AWEA said it is seeing a reduced level of activity in manufacturing of wind turbines and their components, a development it termed troubling in view of the fact that the U.S. industry was previously on track for much larger growth and the global wind power industry is continuing to expand.

We need a stronger renewable electricity standard to remain competitive with China which has tripled its wind goal to 100,000 MW by 2020.

The U.S. is the only developed country without an RES in place. And if the RES as it stands in the House climate bill is not strengthened, the U.S. risks losing 75% of the global wind jobs overseas.

For now, though, let’s celebrate an industry that is adding jobs in these troubled times:  It’s STILL braggin’ time for wind!

Related Posts:

What the Statistics Mean for Green Jobs. New installations will generate approximately 1,000 construction jobs in Q2 and a projected 4,500 construction jobs for 2009 in its entirety. The wind industry in the U.S. currently employs 85,000 people but could be cut by half without a strong RES in place, meaning a loss of more than 40,000 jobs in an already depressed economy.

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The video that Anthony Watts does not want you to see: The Climate Denial “Crock of the Week” ›

9 Responses to Even with economic headwind, U.S. still adds 4,000 MW of new wind — and a dozen new factories

  1. pete best says:

    8 GW would need to be doubled each year in order to offset and mitigate CO2 emissions. I mean how much TWh is 8 GW of installed capacity.

  2. “EIA projects wind at 5% of U.S. electricity in 2012″
    A few more doublings beyond that, and we are doing very well. And judging from the graph, it looks like the doubling time is curently about two years.

  3. john says:

    pete: 8TWh (24+ TW of installed capacity) would be a daunting task if all you did was install wind — but there are at least 3 wedges of efficiency; and then there’s 2-3 of CSP, and hot-dry-rock geothermal (which I believe will become a 2+ wedge renewable resource by 2025 -2030). 1 of CHP; PHEVs, EVs, PVs, etc. contribute another 1 by 2025 and 3 by 2035; throw in the fact that we can virtually shut down all coal and use natural gas (avoiding 3 more wedges worth of emissions) and you only need about 2-3 of wind to get to a point of stabilizing at something around than 400 ppm by 2050. It’s really quite doable …

  4. Wedges assume linear growth. For wind, we can expect exponential growth (for a while).

  5. john says:

    Charles:

    I’ve assumed 16 wedges — which is consistent with projected demand, and an atmospheric concentration of about 400 ppm as an ultimate target. If wind continues to grow “exponentially” then great — it just gets easier.

    But much as I love wind, I think we’ll see a move toward CSP and hot-dry rock geothermal for two reasons — they are capable of supplying base load power or near base load power, and their costs will become competative with wind.

  6. pete best says:

    John, Lets us say that the USA grows its wind base as you suggest to assist in replacing coal along with Geothernal, hydro and CSP and natural gas and nuclear most likely. the 11 TWh a day that the USA uses in electricity could possibly be replaced. However oil usage is 34 TWh a day, over 3x that of electricity. If you are going to electrify transport then you will need to find up to 3x that unless electrified transport if 300% more efficient than gasoline is, best estimate would be 50% (I am being generous) and hence the battle is no where near started. The USA is going to require orders of magnitiude more wind power then even it can imagine if it wants it keep its standards of living so high.

    Its so worrying, the USA needs to curtail its overall energy use.

  7. Pete says:

    Pete —
    Current gasoline engine technology can cut consumption in half — going from average 25-mpg car to ~50-mpg Prius. Electrification can cut that in half again.

    Gasoline at 25 mpg is about 5 MJ per mile (4.8). Electricity at 0.25 kWh per mile (what aftermarket conversion Prius PHEVs get) is about 1 MJ per mile (0.9). PHEVs can also be great for wind because by adding a large bank of batteries to the grid you can stabilize fluctuations in output.

    Then there’s also the efficiency of light rail systems (at least when they are utilized to the DC/NY/Boston level).

  8. Pete says:

    [Edit] I know I’m doing a direct kWh-MJ translation for the PHEV and not accounting for primary energy, but since we’re talking how much wind power would be needed, that should work.

  9. John: I agree that wind will just continue exponential growth for a while, and then solar thermal and geothermal will start to take over. My point is that the usual wedges analysis is too pessimistic about some technologies, because they can grow exponentially. All three of these have a potential for exponential growth, not linear growth.