U.S. Wind Power Capacity Exceeds 20,000 Megawatts

September 10, 2008

The U.S. wind industry has doubled its generating capacity over the past two years, exceeding 20,000 megawatts in installed capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The wind industry trade group announced on September 3 that U.S. installed wind capacity is now at 20,152 megawatts, producing enough electricity to serve 5.3 million average U.S. homes. The industry hit the 10,000-megawatt milestone in August 2006, just over two years ago, which means that the industry grew as much over the past two years as it did in the previous two-and-a-half decades. AWEA expects more than 7,500 megawatts of wind power capacity to be installed in 2008, bringing the total U.S. wind capacity to more than 24,000 megawatts by year end. However, the looming expiration of federal tax credits at the end of the year could cause the industry's growth spurt to sputter in 2009. See the AWEA press release.

A recent report from BCC Research suggests that the U.S. wind industry is poised for further rapid growth. With an estimated market value of $11.2 billion in 2008, the industry is projected by BCC to grow to $60.9 billion in 2013, clocking a compound annual growth rate of 40%. Among the companies preparing to help achieve that growth rate is Vestas Americas A/S, which announced in August that it will build two new wind turbine factories in Brighton, Colorado, about 20 miles northeast of Denver. When they reach full capacity in 2010, the factories will manufacture 1,800 wind turbine blades per year and annually assemble 1,400 nacelles (the housings that sit atop the wind towers), creating 1,350 jobs. Vestas already has a wind turbine blade manufacturing facility in Windsor, Colorado, about 35 miles north of Brighton, that can also produce 1,800 blades per year, and the company plans to build another factory in Colorado to manufacture 900 wind towers per year. The company is also establishing a research center in Houston, Texas, that will open next year. See the BCC press release and the Vestas press releases about the Colorado wind turbine factories (PDF 27 KB) and the Houston research center (PDF 28 KB). Download Adobe Reader.