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  • [ January 24, 2013 ]
  • The numbers are in: December record month for wind energy

2012 has been a landmark year for the wind energy industry. The production tax credit was due to expire December 31, so only wind turbines becoming operational before that date would have qualified for the credit. With the tax credit being extended, many opportunities arise for new wind projects. December 2012 was by far the highest energy-producing month ever for new wind power projects in the U.S. producing 5.5 gigawatts of new capacity. This brings 2012 having installed 13.2 gigawatts, beating the 2009 record of 10 gigawatts installed.

Research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance compiled the research and added up all the numbers. The 2012 capacity addition represents approximately 102% increase over 2011′s number.

With the 2012 numbers identified, wind projects account for 60GW of total capacity across the nation, that’s 6% of the country’s total electricity generating capacity.

Photo: Kait McKinney/Iowa Energy Center

These new numbers will give way to competition in 2013, especially with natural gas. Natural gas prices dropped below $2/MMBtu in April 2012, which is the lowest in a decade. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that the cost of electricity for a wind project in the Texas Panhandle, the windiest part of the country for example, is below $30/MWh. With natural gas fuel prices where they are, natural gas plants will compete with wind energy projects when dealing with meeting the needs of electric utilities.

The information below, taken from Bloomberg, shows statistics by state, for the top 10 states in terms of new 2012 US wind build.

Ranking // State // Wind build in 2012 (MW) // Cumulative wind capacity through 2012 (GW)
1 California  (1,738)  (5.5)
2 Kansas  (1,589)  (2.6)
3 Texas  (1,532)  (11.9)
4 Oklahoma  (1,224)  (3.0)
5 Oregon  (845)  (3.6)
6 Illinois  (803)  (3.6)
7 Iowa  (790)  (5.1)
8 Michigan  (700)  (1.0)
9 Pennsylvania  (568)  (1.4)
10 Colorado  (496) (2.5)

Be sure to check out our previous post about wind energy’s potential to beat coal and natural gas in 2012 energy production.

Sources: December 2012 Saw Record-Breaking 5.5 GW of New Wind Power in US, Treehugger.com

Burst of construction in December delivers record year for US wind, Bloomberg

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