Renewables

DOE: Wind Leads New U.S. Generation Additions in 2012

Wind power installations in 2012 represented a 43% majority of all new power capacity additions in the U.S. and accounted for $25 billion in U.S. investment, two new reports from the Department of Energy show.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) released the “2012 Wind Technologies Market Report,” which details the latest trends in the U.S. wind power market. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), meanwhile, issued the “2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications,” which highlights strong growth in the U.S. distributed wind energy market.

Last year more than 13 GW of new wind power were added to the grid—almost double the wind capacity deployed in 2011, the LBNL report finds. At the same time, the proportion of wind turbine components such as towers, blades, and gears made in the U.S. has increased dramatically. The report estimates 72% of the wind turbine equipment installed in the U.S. last year was made by domestic manufacturers, nearly tripling from 25% in 2006-2007. Also according to the DOE’s 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report, technical and design innovation allowing for larger wind turbines with longer, lighter blades has steadily improved wind turbine performance and has expanded wind energy production to less windy areas.

The PNNL report finds that over the last decade, the U.S. distributed wind market has grown more than five-fold. Turbines used in these applications can range in size from a few hundred watts to multi-megawatts, and can help power remote, off-grid homes and farms as well as local schools and manufacturing facilities.

The report finds that distributed wind in the U.S. reached a 10-year cumulative installed capacity of more than 812 MW at the end of 2012—representing more than 69,000 units across all 50 states. Between 2011 and 2012, U.S. distributed wind capacity grew by 175 MW, with about 80% of this growth coming from utility-scale installations. At the state level, Iowa, Massachusetts, California, and Wisconsin led the nation in new distributed wind power capacity in 2012.

The 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report expects 2013 to be a slow year for new capacity additions, due in part to continued policy uncertainty and project development timelines. While the report notes that 2014 is expected to be more robust, as developers commission projects that will begin construction in 2013, it also notes that projections for 2015 and beyond are much less certain.

Sources: POWERnews, DOE

Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)

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