Monday, August 8, 2011

US Wind Power Doubles From 2009 to 2011: An Energy Revolution

While the nation's economy fought off a depression but contracted in 2009 and then resumed slow growth in 2010 that barely continued in the first half of 2011, wind power in the USA has been in an historic boom.

Moving from the fringe, a joke to some, wind power will basically grow from 25,000 megawatts in 2009 to 50,000 megawatts by 2011 or at the latest March, 2012.

This extraordinary success, a true energy revolution, comes at at time of low power prices as well as a poor economy, making the success of wind power more remarkable. 

Wind power is now reaching substantial percentages of total power production in some states.  According to Energy Information Administration data, wind power provided Texas 5% of its power in 2009 and 14% of Iowa's.  In the first quarter of 2011, wind provided Iowa 20% of its power and 8% of Texas's. 

Nationally in the first quarter of 2011, wind generation provided 2.5% of all our electricity.  Wind energy will provide more than 3% of US power in 2012.

The American Wind Energy Association also reported that the domestic content of wind turbines installed in 2011 was 60%.  Wind energy is creating tens of thousands of American jobs, providing landowners with lease checks, and paying significant taxes to local communities.

Wind energy's success is the result of much lower cost, more productive turbines as well as policy support from President Bush and President Obama and his Administration during the economic collapse and Renewable Portfolio Standards in states like Texas and Iowa.

What does the future hold for wind power?  The low-hanging fruit or easiest wind farms to develop have now been built.  In Texas, more major wind development will require significant new transmission  that Texas seems committed to building. 

Policy support will remain important. How important?

That depends to some extent on power prices.  If power prices increase from current lows to about $75 per megawatt-hour, many wind power projects will be financially viable.


  1. John: Had to chuckle when I saw the source of this article. It's not Ian Urbina, but it looks like the NYT is an equal-opportunity critic with nearly all energy sources. It would be interesting to see how they power their operations:

  2. Interesting. Thanks for sending it. No perfect energy source exists. The perfect source would cost next to nothing and have no environmental impact. Some apparently think that is a real alternative.

    As you know, our real choices are much different from the perfect ideal.

    One of the basic problems is that few regular folks like any energy source when they get to know it, with the possible exception of solar. Some folks--my sister as an example--love their solar panels on the roof. But even large scale solar development in the California dessert has had major environmental opposition over habitat impacts and wildlife impacts.

    Another basic problem is that most folks who are busy earning a living outside of the energy world understandly do not know the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each energy source. As a result, folks can say I am against wind, because it kills birds and and looks ugly, without knowing what would take the place of soon 50,000 megawatts of wind power and what would be the consequences of the alternatives.

    I personally have played a leading role in developing wind power in Pennsylvania and have the scars to prove it. I and others have been attacked for supporting it. Accused of all assaulting the environment for supporting wind power.

    I do chuckle when folks rail against fossil fuels--gas, coal, oil--but have not purchased renewable energy/green electricity which is avaiable in most parts of America. It is very available in Pa. But as of 2009 about 1.1 million electricity customers out of 140 million have bought green power products. I have been a happy green power customer for my home for many years.