A New Report Shows That Wind is More Popular Than the Beatles

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It could be many things: God, love, E.T., or even Michael Jackson. But today, right now, it is wind. Wind has always been around. I think that few would argue with that. But wind power, on the other hand, has been hidden from mankind’s view for centuries. But now wind power is on the rise, especially in America. And a new report shows that wind power is more popular than the Beatles…or not.

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a report today, which came on the same day that Secretary Chu announced the selection of 28 new wind energy projects for up to $13.8 million in funding – $12.8 million of which will be Recovery Act funds.

The report, which was been issued annually since 2007, is an analysis of a range of developments in the wind market, including trends in wind project installations, turbine size, turbine prices, wind project costs, project performance, and wind power prices. The report found that in America more and more power is coming from wind. How much? Last year alone the U.S. wind power capacity increased by 8,558 megawatts (MW), making up 42 percent of all new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2008. Wind was also the second largest new source added to the U.S. energy grid in 2008.

So really, it’s not more popular than the Beatles…yet. But that doesn’t mean that the wind power infrastructure isn’t important. On the contrary. Wind is extremely important in multiple ways. As Secretary Chu said:

“Wind energy will be a critical factor in achieving the President’s goals for clean energy, while supporting news jobs. While the United States leads the world in wind energy capacity, we have to continue to support research and development as we expand renewable energy deployment.”

Both the economy and the environment will benefit from increasing our wind capacity. With demand for wind on the rise, wind turbine manufacturing in the U.S.A. is naturally on the rise as well, resulting in an estimated increase in the share of domestically manufactured wind turbine components from less than 30% in 2005 to roughly 50% in 2008. With that growth, roughly 8,400 new domestic manufacturing jobs were added in the wind sector in 2008 alone.

Despite the increased capacity for wind energy and $16 billion in investments in 2008, the report also shows that the cumulative wind capacity installed in the U.S. at the end of 2008 would, in an average year, be able to supply roughly 1.9 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption. 1.9 percent isn’t much. But we’ve got to start somewhere. Like Bill Murray said in What About Bob?, “Baby steps.”

The nearly $14 million of Recovery Act money that was distributed today is just another baby step. So perhaps the Beatles would win in a popularity contest, but wind is making its way into the big leagues, one baby step at a time.

To read the entire DOE report, click here.

Photo Credit: Vattenfall via flickr under Creative Commons License

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