U.S. Wind Power Capacity Surged Up 45% in 2007

January 23, 2008

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 5,244 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity in 2007, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The rapid growth shatters all previous records and boosts the total U.S. wind power capacity by 45% in only one year. The growth even exceeded AWEA's expectations for 4,000 MW of new capacity, a prediction made just two months ago. In fact, wind power provided 30% of the new generating capacity installed in the United States in 2007. The total U.S. wind power capacity is now at 16,818 MW, with wind projects located in 34 states. AWEA estimates that in 2008, U.S. wind power facilities will generate 48 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or about 1% of the nation's electricity needs. AWEA expects similar capacity growth in 2008, although factors such as the availability of new wind turbines could have an impact on growth. The trade association tallies 3,520 MW of new wind power capacity currently under construction.

Texas leads the states in terms of new wind power capacity installed in 2007, with 1,618 MW of new capacity, further cementing the state's lead in total installed wind power capacity. Among the largest projects built in 2007 are the 264-MW Peetz Table and 300.5-MW Cedar Creek wind plants, both in Colorado; the 198-MW and 161.7-MW Twin Groves I and II wind plants in Illinois; the 205.5-MW Fenton Wind Power Project in Minnesota; the 221.1-MW Klondike III wind plant in Oregon; the 232.5-MW phase II of the Buffalo Gap wind plant in Texas; and the 204.7-MW White Creek Wind Power Project in Washington. The 56.7-MW Bluegrass Ridge wind farm is also noteworthy, as it's the first utility-scale wind facility in Missouri. AWEA also estimates that at least 14 new wind power manufacturing facilities either opened or were announced in 2007. See the AWEA press release and the accompanying market report (PDF 238 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Wind turbines are also getting bigger, as the largest turbine employed in last year's wind projects was a 3-MW Vestas turbine, installed in California and Texas. In October 2007, Clipper Windpower established the Centre of Excellence for Offshore Wind in the United Kingdom to develop a 7.5-MW offshore wind turbine, called the "Britannia Project." At about the same time, American Superconductor Corporation teamed up with TECO-Westinghouse Motor Company to develop a 10-MW generator for use in offshore wind turbines. See the press releases from Clipper Wind and American Superconductor.