It’s been a big year for wind power in the USA, with the country passing Germany to become the world leader in wind energy generation. By mid-2008, the U.S. wind industry passed the 20,000-megawatt (MW) installed capacity milestone, taking just two years compared to bring 10,000 megawatts online. The previous 10,000 megawatts of capacity had taken two decades to achieve.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the 21,000 MW of capacity will generate over 60 billion kWh of electricity in 2009, enough to serve over 5.5 million American homes with renewable energy.
This level of clean and green electricity, if it had been produced by fossil fuels, would have required 30.4 million tons of coal (enough to fill two 1,000-mile-long coal trains), 91 million barrels of oil or 560 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Furthermore, if the electricity produced by America’s wind farms was generated using fossil fuels, it would have contributed, 198,000 tons of acid-rain causing sulfur dioxide (SO2), 93,000 additional tons of smog-causing nitrous oxide (NOx) and 36 million additional tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission. The electricity produced by US wind farms is equivalent of taking over six million cars off the road according to the Association.
Wind power made a significant positive contribution to the shaky U.S. economy during 2008, with t least 50 new, expanded or announced wind-related manufacturing facilities across the nation. Between the first quarter and third quarter the year, 9,000 new jobs were created in manufacturing components such as wind turbines. The wind industry invested more than AUD $21.5 billion in domestic wind farm construction, adding thousands more domestic employees in construction and operations.