As I posted a couple months back, wind has been expected to grow a record amount in 2008. But the credit crisis made me wonder whether growth would really be more than 7.5 GW like the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) projected. Lo and behold, that number was low. Wind power capacity grew a whopping 8.35 GW or 50%, according to initial AWEA estimates.
The fourth quarter saw bigger capacity growth, at 4.1 GW, than any full year except 2007. And the US is now the biggest wind producing country in the world at ~25.2 GW - finally passing the much smaller nation of Germany.
Texas continues to be the wind power leader with over 7 GW. And Iowa had tremendous growth in wind capacity, putting it in front of California for second place among states with ~2.8 GW.
On the Jobs Front
While other industries were busy cutting more than 2 million jobs, wind was creating them. Dozens of new or expanded wind manufacturing facilities created 13,000 direct jobs.
Unfortunately, the credit crisis is severely slowing wind growth in 2009. Federal legislation needs to support this bright spot in our economy as part of the path to economic recovery that can simultaneously lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Bottom line: Congratulations to the wind sector for another phenomenal year! Let's help the industry continue to develop and grow as an engine for the US economy and for the health of our global environment.