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China tops U.S. in race to build wind power; Texas leads states

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China bested the United States in 2009 in the race to install wind turbines, topping the U.S. in installed wind power capacity for the first time and shattering the annual record in the process.

China bested the United States in 2009 in the race to install wind turbines, topping the U.S. in installed wind power capacity for the first time and shattering the annual record in the process.

After four years of leading the world in annual wind power capacity additions, the U.S. dropped behind China for the first time, with 9,994 megawatts installed in 2009 compared to China's 13,750 megawatts in the same time period, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report.

According to the DOE's 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report, the U.S. claimed about 26 percent of all newly-installed capacity worldwide, behind China's 36 percent share in 2009.

Spain, Germany and India rounded out the top five countries in 2009 for new installations.

Here's the outlay for new installations in 2009:

  1. China: 13,750 MW
  2. U.S.: 9,994
  3. Spain: 2,331
  4. Germany: 1,917
  5. India: 1,172
  6. Italy: 1,114
  7. France: 1,104
  8. U.K.: 1077
  9. Canada: 950
  10. Portugal: 645
  11. Rest of world: 4,121
  12. Total: 38,175

Worldwide, more than 38,000 megawatts of wind power capacity was added in 2009, up from 28,000 megawatts in 2008 and the highest volume achieved in a single year.

Worldwide total wind capacity reached 160,000 megawatts by the end of 2009.

The good news for the U.S. is that it still leads the world in total capacity, by a sizable but shrinking margin.

Here's the outlay for cumulative capacity by the end of 2009:

  1. U.S.: 35,155 MW
  2. China: 25,853
  3. Germany: 25,813
  4. Spain: 18,784
  5. India: 10,827
  6. Italy: 4,845
  7. France: 4,775
  8. U.K.: 4,340
  9. Portugal: 3,474
  10. Denmark: 3,408
  11. Rest of world: 22,806
  12. Total: 160,080

That means the U.S. ended 2009 with about 22 percent of worldwide capacity.

Domestically, Texas topped the 50 states in annual capacity additions, with 2,282 megawatts installed in 2009. It's also the American leader in cumulative installed wind power, with 9,410 megawatts -- that's more than all but five world nations.

Top 10 U.S. states in terms of new capacity:

  1. Texas: 2,292 MW
  2. Indiana: 905
  3. Iowa: 879
  4. Oregon: 754
  5. Illinois: 632
  6. New York: 568
  7. Washington: 542
  8. North Dakota: 488
  9. Wyoming: 425
  10. Pennsylvania: 388

Top 10 U.S. states in terms of cumulative installed capacity are:

  1. Texas: 9,410
  2. Iowa: 3,670
  3. California: 2,798
  4. Washington: 1,908
  5. Oregon: 1,821
  6. Minnesota: 1,810
  7. Illinois: 1,547
  8. New York: 1,274
  9. Colorado: 1,246
  10. North Dakota: 1,203

To date, all wind power projects in the U.S. have been installed on land, but offshore development is underway.

Projects include: Capewind and Hull Municipal in Massachusetts; Deepwater Wind in Rhode Island; Bluewater Wind, Garden State Offshore Energy and Fisherman's Energy in New Jersey; Bluewater Wind in Delaware; Duke Energy in North Carolina; NYPA in New York; Cuyahoga County in Ohio; and Coastal Point Energy in Texas.

Interestingly, four states surpassed 10 percent of estimated wind energy penetration -- in other words, wind power represents more than 10 percent of their total energy mix. Those states are:

  • Iowa: 19.7 percent
  • South Dakota: 13.3 percent
  • North Dakota: 11.9 percent
  • Minnesota:  10.7 percent

Included in the report were "power rankings" for the leading utility companies in the wind space.

For total wind capacity, the top 10 companies are:

  1. Xcel Energy: 3,176 MW
  2. MidAmerican Energy: 2,923
  3. Southern California Edison: 1,772
  4. American Electric Power: 1,196
  5. Pacific Gas and Electric: 1,131
  6. Luminant: 913
  7. Alliant Energy: 645
  8. City Public Service of San Antonio: 579
  9. Puget Sound Energy: 479
  10. Austin Energy: 439

Finally, the report noted that General Electric remains by far the top turbine manufacturer in the U.S. market, with 40 percent share.

However, other firms are gaining ground. Here's the Top 10 list:

  1. GE: 40 percent (3,995 MW in 2009)
  2. Vestas: 15 percent (1,490 MW in 2009)
  3. Siemens: 12 percent (1,162 MW in 2009)
  4. Mitsubishi: 8 percent (814 MW in 2009)
  5. Suzlon: 7 percent (702 MW in 2009)
  6. Clipper: 6 percent
  7. Gamesa: 6 percent
  8. REpower: 3 percent
  9. Acciona: 2 percent
  10. Nordex: 1 percent

It takes American jobs to build these turbines, and according to the report, wind equipment manufacturing was a bright spot in an otherwise down economy, with 13 wind turbine and component manufacturing and assembly facilities opening in 2009. The vast majority of them were built in either Texas or the Midwest.

According to the report:

Some of the states that have experienced the greatest growth in installed wind power capacity in recent years are also seeing significant new manufacturing activity. Even states with little installed wind power capacity, however, are reaping job and economic benefits from new wind-related manufacturing facilities, particularly if those states are strategically positioned geographically near the main wind power markets and in locations that minimize transportation logistics challenges and costs (e.g., Arkansas).

Looking forward, the report estimates that these wind power capacity additions and those projected from through 2012 will "put the United States on a trajectory that may lead to 20 percent of the nation's electricity demand coming from wind energy by 2030."

But some things must be in place to get there. The authors suggest the following steps:

  • Stable, long-term promotional policies.
  • Investment in significant amounts of new transmission infrastructure designed to access remote wind resources.
  • More-effective integration of wind power into electricity markets, larger power control regions, better wind forecasting, and increased investment in fast-responding generating plants will be required.
  • Streamlined siting and permitting procedures to allow wind power developers to identify appropriate project locations and move from wind resource prospecting to construction quickly.
  • Enhanced research and development efforts in both the public and private sector to lower the cost of offshore wind power, and incrementally improve conventional land-based wind energy technology.

Interested in the details? You can read the full report here.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure