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Sunday, August 17, 2008

U.S. Wind Power Could Hit 150 Gigawatts by 2020

Written by Hank Green
Friday, 15 August 2008

A while back we reported (with some skepticism) a report coming out of China that said they would be producing over 100 gigawatts of wind by 2020, a 1,500% increase.

Little did I know that the United States was, at the same time, on track to actually beat that! A report from Emerging Energy Research, a cleantech consulting firm, points out that the U.S. is now the world's fastest growing market for wind power. Last year 5 gigawatts of wind power were installed, and 2008 will break the record again with 8 new gigawatts under construction. The U.S. will shortly be the world's largest producer of wind energy, surpassing Germany's 22 gigawatts.

If the rate of growth continues, and ideal wind energy areas are exploited, the report says we could hit 150 gigawatts of wind power by 2020! For those of you wondering how much power that is...the average coal plant produces about 800 megawatts of power. So this is enough to displace about 180 coal plants. That's a sizeable hunk of America's power generation!

Of course, a few obstacles could stand in the way. First, if the investment tax credit isn't renewed, the economics of wind power will change significantly. Second, right now there simply aren't enough manufacturing plants building wind turbines. GE already has already sold about $12 B of turbines that they have not yet produced. And in some areas the permitting process is greatly slowing the rate at which the plants come online.