Despite the 2012 drought, a “bumper crop” was reported. Wind
power additions hit a new record in 2012, with 13.1 gigawatts of new capacity
added in the U.S. and $25 billion invested, according to the U.S. Department of
Energy’s and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Wind Technologies Market
Wind power installations last year were more than 90 percent
higher than in 2011 and 30 percent greater than the previous record in 2009.
Cumulative wind power capacity grew by 28 percent in 2012, bringing to the total
to 60 gigawatts.
The report also shows additions in 2012, constituting 43
percent of all nameplate capacity additions last year, overtaking natural
gas-fired generation as the leading source of new capacity.
“Continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand
growth and limited near-term demand from state renewables portfolio standards
have also put a damper on industry growth expectations,” the report stated.
“In combination with global competition within the sector,
these trends continue to impact the manufacturing supply chain. What these
trends mean for the medium to longer term remains to be seen, dictated in part
by future natural gas prices, fossil plant retirements and policy decisions,
although recent declines in the price of wind energy have boosted the prospects
for future growth.”
After leading the world in annual wind power additions from
2005 through 2008 and then losing the mantle to China from 2009 through 2011,
the U.S. narrowly regained the global lead in 2012, representing some 29 percent
of global installed capacity in 2012, a steep rise from the 16 percent
registered in 2011.
However, a number of countries are beginning to achieve high
levels of wind energy penetration: end-of-2012 installed wind power is estimated
to supply the equivalent of nearly 30 percent of Denmark’s electricity demand,
compared to about 18 percent for Portugal and Spain, 16 percent for Ireland and
10 percent for Germany.
In the U.S., the cumulative wind power capacity installed at
the end of 2012 is estimated, in an average year, to equate to roughly 4.4
percent of electricity demand.
On a cumulative basis, Texas leads all states with 12,214
megawatts installed through the end of 2012, followed by 5,542 megawatts in
Among the Midwest corn and soybean fields, Iowa now has wind
power capacity of 5,133 megawatts to rank third in the nation, Illinois is
fourth with 3,568 megawatts and Indiana has a generation capacity of 1,543
megawatts for 13th in the U.S.
Among a large sample of wind projects installed in 2012, the
capacity-weighted average installed cost stood at nearly $1,940 per kilowatt,
down almost $200 per kilowatt from the reported average cost in 2011 and down
almost $300 per kilowatt from the reported average cost in both 2009 and
The extension of the federal Production Tax Credit in
January 2013, as well as the ability to take the 30 percent investment tax
credit in lieu of the PTC — both applicable to wind power projects begun before
the end of this year — helped restart the domestic wind market and are expected
to spur capacity additions in 2014 as projects that begin construction in 2013
reach commercial operations.