Wind tops U.S. sources of new electricity generation in 2012

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2013-02-10

Wind energy was the single largest source of new electricity generation capacity in the US during 2012, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). With 13,124 MW of new infrastructure, wind accounted for 42 percent of all new capacity, from renewable sources or otherwise, according to a press release put out by the organization.

The new growth takes America’s total installed wind capacity to 60,007 MW. This is sufficient, by AWEA’s estimation, to meet the electricity needs of 15 million homes. The U.S. remains second to China, which had 62,000 MW of installed wind power at the close of 2011.

Though a bumper year, the rate of expansion is susceptible to the prevailing winds in Washington, DC. The fourth quarter of 2012 was the U.S. wind industry’s strongest ever, seeing an additional 8,380 MW of capacity. But this has been attributed to the expectations that the Production Tax Credit (PTC) would expire on December 31, 2012. The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electrical energy generated from a renewable source during its first decade in operation. As part of a last-minute budget deal, Congress extended the credit for another year, so the boom in new projects may continue.

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