A Record Year
The U.S. wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012, installing a record 13,124 megawatts (MW). A record-breaking 8,380 MW were installed during the fourth quarter alone. During 2012, utility-scale turbines were installed in 26 states and Puerto Rico.
The milestone of 60,000 MW was also reached in 2012, just five months after AWEA announced in August that the U.S. industry had installed 50,000 MW.
Wind energy also became the number one source of new U.S. electricity generating capacity for the first time, providing some 42% of all new generating capacity. In fact, 2012 was a strong year for all renewables, together they accounted for over 55 % of all new U.S. generating capacity.
What does 60 GW mean?
POWERS the equivalent of 14.7 million American homes, or the number of homes in Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio combined
REPRESENTS $120 billion of investment in the U.S.
PROVIDES electricity generation equivalent to 14 nuclear power plants or 52 coal plants
PRODUCES electricity equivalent to burning 320 million barrels of oil each year
AVOIDS 95.9 million tons of CO2 ... roughly equaling 4.2% of the CO2 emissions of the entire power sector or the CO2 emissions of 17.5 million cars.
AVERTS consumption of 36.6 billion gallons of water annually.
Reaching 60 GW
It took more than 25 years to reach 10 GW (in 2006), then only two years to reach 20 GW (in 2008).
The U.S. wind industry hit 40 GW in 2010 and then in 2012 hit both the 50 GW and 60 GW milestone.
What does 60 GW look like?
More than 45,100 wind turbines ranging from less than 100 kW machines in Altamont Pass to 3.6 MW machines in West Texas
Utility-scale wind installations in 39 states, plus Puerto Rico
Over 1,050 projects with over 400 owners and 60 turbine manufactures
For projects that came online during 2012, 10% of the MW are utility-owned and 90% are owned by independent power producers (IPPs). Among IPP-owned MW, 84% of the capacity has a power-purchase agreement and 16% of the MW is being sold on the spot of short-term market.
Wind is an eligible generating resource for at least 28 different RFPs for capacity or RECs issued in 2012.
At least 66 utilities own or have contracted wind from projects currently online during 2012, whereas projects that came online during the fourth quarter are owned by or have long term PPAs with at least 45 utilities.
There was a rise in industrial offtakers of wind power, with at least 18 companies purchasing wind under long term PPA or direct ownership from on-site generators. At least 11 schools and universities, and eight towns or cities also joined the list of nontraditional power purchasers.
For more information, please download the U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter Market Report 2012.