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US Kind of a World Leader in Wind Power Generation

344190635_87ea7174b8 According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the capacity the US has for generating wind power is expected to increase 45% in 2008. America’s currently installed capacity stands at 19,549MW, up a total of 2,726MW from the end of 2007. Thanks to this number, AWEA is announcing that America is now the US world leader in wind electricity generation.

However this is an announcement based on stats that AWEA is hoping the rest of the world won’t look at too hard.

According to AWEA’s second quarter 2008 market report, they bill the US as the new world leader in the generation of wind power electricity. Looking at Germany’s capacity, for example, sees them with a total of 23,000MW, but never using that full capacity. Apparently the winds in America are stronger, and thus max out the US capacity.

But one important little factoid has been left out of this announcement, allowing the AWEA to make a perfectly legitimate statement, but based in marketing reality.

The US may have a capacity of 19,549MW, expected to grow another 4774MW by the end of this year, but it also has a population of 304.8 million people living on a total area of 9.8 million square kilometers of land. Germany, on the other hand, has only a population of 82 million and a total area of 357,000 square kilometers.

Needless to say, I’m going to say that Germany, and many of the European nations, are doing a lot better in terms of their actual rollout of wind power across their entire country.

And things get worse for the US in light of Congress’s failure to re-extend the production tax credit (PTC). This credit, which once provided a 1.9-cent per kilowatt-hour benefit for the first ten years of a renewable energy facility’s operation, provided not only a benefit but an incentive to install such stations.

According to AWEA executive director Randall Swisher, many projects currently in production are being rushed to completion, so that they can complete prior to the expiration of the PTC at the end of this year. In addition, investments in new projects following the expiration have stalled. “If there is a great deal of uncertainty in the market and in policies in the market, that investment capacity will be deployed elsewhere”, he said. “It’s just ludicrous that the Congress is letting this opportunity slip away.”

So, there you have kind of-good news and bad news for the production of renewable energy in the US; pretty much a sign of the times, really.

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