The rise of the global wind industry to incredible heights is an amazing story that is still unfolding. In 1984 a total of 300 megawatts of wind power were installed in the entire world. Nothing really. Yet, by the end of 2011, the world will have about 240,000 megawatts operating, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance and IEA data.
Moreover Pike Research is predicting that wind power will more than double again in the next
10 years, reaching globally more than 560,000 megawatts. The USA currently has a bit more than 1 million megawatts of all types of electric generation and between a fifth and a quarter of the world's electric generation. Wind generation of 560,000 megawatts would be an extraordinary electric generation revolution completed in about 40 years.
The USA will account for 50,000 megawatts of wind power within the next few months or about 20% of the world's total. In the next decade, where will the US winds blow?
Continued improvements in wind turbine productivity and more declines in costs mean the odds are also good that the USA will have about 100,000 megawatts of wind power operating by 2021. Achieving the 100,000 megawatt mark in the USA is certain if the production tax credit is
renewed and less certain if it is not.
Wind remains the most competitive renewable energy resource, with the exception of the limited amounts of landfill gas that remain to be developed. Indeed, wind turbines can produce electricity at costs equal to natural gas plants in high wind areas or when gas is around $5 to $6 per thousand cubic feet. Consequently wind will provide most of the electricity required to meet state level renewable energy standards over the next 10 years.
Wind will increasingly be deployed with natural gas and storage technologies in the USA to manage intermittency, as wind generation exceeds 5% of generation in more and more electricity control areas. Wind power is now a reasonably priced, zero carbon, zero air pollution, zero water consumption source of electricity that has a very bright future in a world that one day will need solutions to global warming and water constraints.