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By Samuel R. Avro on Jan 28, 2009 with no responses

Wind Energy Posts Record Growth in 2008

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But the industry is seeking stimulus funds from the government in order to remain afloat during the recession

Massive growth in 2008 swelled the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50% and channeled an investment of some $17 billion into the economy, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing 8,358 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity – enough to power 2 million homes.

While those figures may provide a sense of accomplishment for the wind power industry, the future doesn’t look as rosy. The wind sector doesn’t seem to be immune from what may be the longest economic recession since World War Two.

The AWEA says that at year’s end, financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed to a trickle and layoffs began to hit the wind turbine manufacturing sector.

“Our numbers are both exciting and sobering,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode.  “The U.S. wind energy industry’s performance in 2008 confirms that wind is an economic and job creation dynamo, ready to deliver on the President’s call to double renewable energy production in three years.  At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development.

The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally last year, according to initial estimates, and will avoid nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking over 7 million cars off of the road.

The industry is seeking to acquire a substantial chunk of the $825 billion bailout package as soon as possible.

“We are already seeing layoffs in the area where wind’s promise is greatest for our economy: the wind power manufacturing sector.  Quick action in the stimulus bill is vital to restore the industry’s momentum and create jobs as we help make our country more secure and leave a more stable climate for our children,” said Bode.

Texas leads all states in terms of generating capacity from wind power with 7,116 MW installed.

“The hope is that provisions such as those included in the House stimulus bill to restore the effectiveness of the tax incentives for renewable energy will quickly become law and provide the capital needed to continue to build projects,” Bode said.