The wind-turbine manufacturing leader Vestas gave the the Democratic National Convention a gusty green-power presence. What do the Republicans have at their event? Wind energy bragging rights. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced this morning in Minneapolis at the RNC that the U.S. has installed over 20,000 MW of wind capacity, and is now the world leader in wind electricity generation, with enough to power 5.3 million American homes.
According to the AWEA the U.S. has surpassed Germany in wind-powered electricity generation, even though Germany has more installed wind capacity. While the U.S. has 20,152 MW, Germany has about 23,000 MW, but U.S. wind farms produce more electricity because of stronger winds. In the U.S. 20,000 MW is about 56 billion kilowatt hours every year. A fact like this must warm the heart (and wallets?) of investors like T. Boone Pickens, who is spending more than $10 billion building out one of the world’s largest wind plants in a Texas wind corridor. High fives, for our natural green power resources.
U.S. wind capacity has seen record growth in recent years. AWEA says the 10,000 MW wind power mark was hit in 2006 — that means it took just two years to double the entire previous U.S. capacity. At its current 20,152 MW, U.S. wind capacity now delivers the equivalent power that 28.7 million tons of coal or 90 million barrels of oil and displaces 34 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
AWEA also says that crossing the 20,000 MW mark puts the U.S. “ahead of the curve for contributing 20 percent of the U.S. electric power supply by 2030 as envisioned by the U.S. Department of Energy.”
But 20,000 MW is just slightly more than 1.5 percent of the nation’s electricity, and reaching the goal of 20 percent will require between 266,000 MW and 300,000 MW of total wind capacity.
According to Emerging Energy Research (EER) total U.S. wind capacity is expected to cross the 150,000 MW mark by 2020. So between 2020 and 2030, we will need to double that figure to meet the DOE goal. The AWEA says we would need installations of new wind power capacity to increase to more than 16,000 MW per year by 2018, and continue at that rate through 2030.