A Great Year for Wind
The American Wind Energy Association recently released its 2010 report on wind energy and all in all it's a pretty positive take on the way things are going. For example, the renewable energy tax credit was extended, which is estimated to "increase wind project installations by roughly 50 percent each year"; there have been strong pushes for offshore wind; and at least 14 states have installed 1 GW of wind capacity. More states are following suit.
What's arguably the best news from the report, however, is the fact that the industry continues to grow and provide employment opportunities despite the country's ongoing economic situation.
In 2010, URV USA began work on a new facility in Eaton Rapids, MI, that features a next-generation casting process to produce large, utility-scale wind turbine components. A new Siemens nacelle assembly facility in Hutchinson, Kan., was also announced; that plant will employ close to 500 Americans. (The nacelle includes the turbine itself, and is the most valuable part of wind installations, which also require towers and blades.) A new Nordex nacelle assembly facility came online in Little Rock, Ark., and Alstom announced an assembly plant in Amarillo, Texas. Those are just a few of the wind energy manufacturing announcements in 2010. Over 400 U.S. plants now serve the industry, and they are located in every region of the country, from the Midwest to the Southeast.
However, "Once the year's final numbers are tallied, they are expected to show that China installed approximately three times as much wind-powered electricity as the U.S. in 2010, and Europe twice as much...."
Live in a windy neighborhood? Read my interview with a small wind expert on your chances of incorporating wind into your home.
-- Brian Foley