"United States becomes world leader in wind power(By Tracy Seipel via MercuryNews.com)Aggressive investments in 2008 helped the United States surpass Germany to
become the world's leader in wind power, according to a report released
Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy.And for the fourth consecutive year, the United States was home to the
fastest-growing wind power market in the world.Wind power capacity increased by 60 percent, or 8,558 megawatts, in 2008,
representing $16.4 billion in federal and private investments in new wind
projects. Total U.S. wind capacity at the end of 2008 was 25,369 megawatts,
compared with 23,933 for Germany, the Energy Department said.That raised to nearly $45 billion the total wind power investment in the
United States since the 1980s. One megawatt of electricity generally is
enough to power 750 to 1,000 homes.Wind now delivers nearly 2 percent of the nation's electricity supply.""Wind energy will be a critical factor in achieving the president's goals
for clean energy, while supporting news jobs,"" Energy Secretary Steven Chu
said in a statement with the report. ""While the United States leads the
world in wind energy capacity, we have to continue to support research and
development as we expand renewable energy deployment.""The report, prepared by Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger of the Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory, provides an overview of trends in the U.S.
wind power market in 2008. While the $16.4 billion figure is impressive —
total investment in wind was about $9 billion in 2007 and about $4 billion
in 2006 — investments are expected to drop this year, Bolinger said in an
interview.""The economic situation that is causing trouble elsewhere in other
industries is also impacting the wind industry,"" he said.Among the report's findings:Wind projects accounted for 42 percent of all new electric generating
capacity in the United States last year.Growth is distributed across much
of the country. Texas leads the nation with 7,118 megawatts of new wind
capacity installed, followed by Iowa (2,791 megawatts) and California
(2,517 megawatts). For a long time, California led the United States in
installed wind capacity.""It's easier to build wind in Texas because the regulatory and permitting
process is not as onerous as it is in California,'' Bolinger said.He noted that Texas also benefits from more widespread wind development,
while California has essentially three or four concentrated areas where
wind resources are strong. They include the Altamont Pass wind farms along
Interstate 580, Solano County, Tehachapi (south east of Bakersfield) and
San Gorgonio (near Palm Springs).Market growth is spurring manufacturing investments in the United States.
Several major foreign wind turbine manufacturers either opened or announced
new U.S. wind turbine manufacturing plants last year. Likewise, new and
existing U.S.-based manufacturers either initiated or scaled up production.
The American Wind Energy Association estimates that roughly 8,400 new
domestic manufacturing jobs were added in the wind sector in 2008 alone.The Energy Department on Thursday also announced it has awarded a total of
$13.8 million to 28 new wind energy projects. Two companies in California
were among the recipients. Sunnyvale-based Analatom received $200,000, and
AlphaStar, of Long Beach received $200,383.International rankings of wind power total capacity, end of 2008, in
megawatts:U.S. """ 25,369 MWGermany """ 23,933Spain """ 16,453China """ 12,121India """
9,655Italy """ 3,731France """ 3,671U.K. """ 3,263Denmark """ 3,159Portugal """
2,829Rest of world """ 18,106TOTAL """ 122,290Source: DOEFor the very latest wind jobs across the U.S. and globally please click here"