The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has identified the wind industry's top accomplishments of 2008, and highlighted key environmental and economic achievements.
20% by 2030 Report:
In May, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that wind could provide 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030, supporting 500,000 jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as taking 140 million vehicles off the road, and saving 4 trillion gallons of water (a 40-year supply for the city of Phoenix).
U.S. becomes 'Number One' in Wind:
During the summer of 2008, the U.S. wind industry launched past the 20,000-megawatt (MW) installed capacity milestone, achieving in two years what had previously taken two decades (the 10,000-MW mark was reached in 2006). Also this summer, the U.S. passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation. By the end of September, the U.S. had over 21,000 MW of wind capacity up and running. With additional projects coming on line every week since, the wind industry is on its way to charting another record-shattering year of growth. That 21,000 MW of capacity will generate over 60 billion kWh of electricity in 2009, enough to serve over 5.5 million American homes and eliminating the burning of 30.4 million short tons of coal (enough to fill two 1,000-mile-long coal trains), 91 million barrels of oil per year, or 560 Bcf of natural gas (about 9% of the natural gas used for electricity generation).
Climate Change Benefits:
If electricity produced by America's wind farms in 2008 were being generated by the conventional mix of fuels, more than 36 million additional tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) would have been emitted. That's the equivalent of taking over six million cars off the road.
Improving Environmental Health:
If the electricity produced by America's wind farms were generated using fossil fuels...
198,000 additional short tons of acid-rain causing sulfur dioxide (SO2) would have to be abated to achieve the national Acid Rain Program goals; 93,000 additional short tons of smog-causing nitrous oxide (NOx) would have been emitted.
60,000 Domestic Employees and Counting:
Wind power continued to provide a critically important stimulus to the faltering U.S. economy this year. In the midst of the economic meltdown, the wind industry remained a bright spot as at least 50 new, expanded or announced wind-related manufacturing facilities were noted all across the nation. Between the first quarter and third quarter of 2008, this expansion created 9,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. Also, in 2008, the wind industry invested more than $15 billion in domestic wind farm construction, which added thousands more domestic employees in construction and operations.
A Growing National Commitment to Clean Energy:
After nearly a year of anticipation and uncertainty, Congress approved a one-year extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC), which enables utilities, wind energy developers and manufacturers to continue their investments in new wind farm construction in the U.S. The PTC is the main federal policy for encouraging investments in wind. AWEA is committed to working with the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress to achieve a long-term, full value PTC as a first step toward establishing a long-term, national commitment to developing our homegrown clean energy resources.
For more information visit www.awea.org.