Wind power is second in adding new generation capacity in the U.S., a close second behind natural gas, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). America’s wind power industry grew by 15 percent in 2010 and provided 26 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S., AWEA announced on April 7. With 5,116 MW added last year, U.S. wind installations now total 40,181 MW, according to the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report.
Elizabeth Salerno, director of data and analysis and chief economist for AWEA, said wind will continue to remain competitive with natural gas as a growing source of power generation. “Wind can be used to sign 20-to-30-year contracts at a low, affordable price that is stable and can be locked in for rate payers.”
Wind has comprised approximately 35 percent of all new capacity added since 2007, said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. At the end of 2010, wind made up 2.3 percent of U.S. electricity generation, up from 1.8 percent the previous year.
Domestic manufacturing trend
While the numbers indicate steady growth, they are also a reflection of the domestic wind manufacturing trend. Wind turbines domestic content is now above 50 percent, up from 25 percent in 2005.
“We’re seeing the majority of turbine manufacturers are doing nacelle assembly here in the U.S,” said Jessica Isaacs, senior policy analyst for AWEA. “That drives manufacturing for subcomponents like gearboxes and large casting.”
In the U.S., wind manufacturing takes place at over 400 facilities in 44 states. Some facilities are wind-specific, but most are small manufacturers – previously auto or aerospace manufacturers – that have diversified into the wind industry, Isaacs said. Fourteen new facilities went online in 2010, and 23 new facilities were announced.
GE currently produces 46 percent of the turbines in the U.S., followed by Vestas, Gamesa and Mitsubishi.
Increased manufacturing can lead to increased exporting of U.S. turbines, said Bode, citing turbine exporter Gamesa, which hosted President Obama at its nacelle plant in Fairless Hills, Pa. on April 6.
The U.S. installed 2,900 new turbines in 2010, and the average turbine size was 1.77 MW.
In terms of generation ownership, independent power producers own 85 percent of new wind built in 2010, while utilities own 15 percent. Community wind projects comprise 5.6 percent of these new builds.
Independent power producers with the most new wind assets in 2010 were Iberdrola Renewables (with 1,074 MW of new installations), followed by NextEra Energy Resources (603 MW), Horizon Wind Energy (499 MW), Terra-Gen (300 MW) and Duke Energy (251 MW).
The utilities that are most active in buying or owning wind assets are Xcel Energy with 3,458 MW total of wind capacity and MidAmerican Energy with 3,129 MW total wind capacity. CPS Energy of San Antonio is the most active municipally-owned utility, with 850 MW of wind capacity. Of the 5,116 MW installed in 2010, over 61 percent of the capacity was contracted under a power purchase agreement.
In 2010, Delaware and Maryland became states No. 37 and 38 to generate wind power. Fourteen of the 38 states with wind power have more than 1,000 MW installed. The top state to add wind in 2010 was, not surprisingly, Texas, which has the most wind capacity of any state – approximately 10,085 MW. Texas was followed by Illinois, California, South Dakota and Minnesota. While not one of the top five wind producers, Iowa is the only state where wind generation accounts for more than 15 percent of total capacity.
Transmission is a concern for the growing wind capacity. According to the report, there are roughly 275,000 MW of wind projects lined up in the interconnection queues for transmission access. Near-term transmission projects, if all completed, would project enough transmission capacity to carry another 29,000 MW of wind capacity in the next few years.
Wind projects are not expected to slow in 2011. The U.S. wind industry entered this year with over 5,600 MW under construction, more than double the 2,750 MW under construction entering 2010. This construction activity exceeds such activity at the end of the year in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In addition, 6,200 MW of turbine orders were placed in 2010, and of those, 2,300 are scheduled for delivery in 2011.
This flurry of activity can be partly attributed to the extension of 1603 investment tax credit program at the end of 2010, Bode said.
“We remain on track to produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030 with wind, as laid out by the Department of Energy during the Bush Administration,” Bode said. “Continued interest and investment by manufacturers in America demonstrates that the U.S. continues to be a global powerhouse for wind development.”
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