WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced that the wind industry broke all previous records by installing nearly 10,000 megawatts of new generating capacity in 2009. The installed capacity is enough to serve more than 2.4 million homes. However, despite the increase in installations, the industry still lags in wind turbine manufacturing.
According to the fourth quarter (Q4) report released by AWEA, these new projects place wind power in close competition with natural gas as the leading source of new electricity generation in the country. Together, the two sources account for about 80 percent of the new capacity added in the country in 2009.
The report points out that the increase is a result of the clear commitment by the president to create clean energy jobs and the swift implementation of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) incentives by the administration. ARRA incentives spurred the growth of construction, operations and maintenance, and management jobs, helping the industry to save and create jobs in those sectors.
At the same time, the continuing lack of a long-term policy and market signal allowed investment in the manufacturing sector to drop compared with 2008, with one-third fewer wind power manufacturing facilities online, announced, and expanded in 2009. The result was net job losses in the manufacturing sector, which were compounded by low orders and high inventory. Looking forward, the critical ARRA manufacturing incentives that were announced only at the start of this year will also need to be supplemented with the hard targets of a national Renewable Electricity Standard, AWEA said.
A copy of the Q4 report is available for download through this link.