Wind Industry Reports Growth as Renewables Show Yearly Expansion

May 4, 2011

The U.S. wind power industry installed 1,100 megawatts (MW) of new capacity in the first quarter of 2011 and entered the second quarter with another 5,600 MW under construction, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced on April 28. The under-construction figure is nearly twice the megawatts that the industry reported at the same time in both 2009 and 2010. The total U.S. wind fleet capacity now stands at 41,400 MW, which is enough to supply 10 million homes.

The first quarter's new capacity came online in 12 different states, with some seeing double-digit growth. The states adding the most capacity were Minnesota (293 MW), Washington (252 MW), and Illinois (240 MW). AWEA reported that one third of the 5,600 MW currently under construction is located in California, Oregon, and Washington. See the AWEA press release.

In general, renewables showed strong growth when comparing January 2011 to January 2010, according to the Energy Information Agency's (EIA) "Electric Power Monthly" report. Hydroelectric generation registered the largest "fuel-specific" increase with generation up 3,590 thousand megawatt-hours (MWh), or 16.2% from January 2010 to January 2011, according to EIA. The largest hydro increases were in Washington, California, and Oregon. The next largest renewable expansion was in wind generation, up 27.6% or 1,923 thousand MWh. Washington, Wyoming, and Colorado were home to the biggest wind additions. Solar power net generation measured the largest percentage increase, leaping 343%; solar grew from 10 thousand MWh to 43 thousand MWh in 2011, led by Nevada, California, and Florida, EIA reported. See EIA's Electric Power Monthly executive summary.