The national trade association of America's wind industry says in 2008 the industry had another record growth year - the third record year in a row and generated more than $18 billion in revenues.
This year, the United States passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation, said the American Wind Energy Association in its year-end report.
AWEA says that this summer, the U.S. wind industry reached the 20,000-megawatt installed capacity milestone, doubling installed wind power generating capacity since 2006.
By the end of September, the U.S. had over 21,000 megawatts of wind capacity up and running. Germany had 22,300 megawatts, but U.S. windpower developers sprinted to the end of the year while German wind development slowed.
"With additional projects coming on line every week since, the wind industry is on its way to charting another record-shattering year of growth," AWEA said in its repAWEA calculates the 60 billion kilowatt hours of electricity generated by wind power next year will displace 91 million barrels of oil, or 560 billion cubic feet of natural gas - about nine percent of the natural gas used for electricity generation in the United States.
In October, as part of the $700 billion financial bailout law, the production and investment tax credits that benefit the wind industry and other renewable energy industries were approved by Congress and signed into law. The tax credit package will extend the renewable energy production tax credit for one year and the investment tax credit for eight years.
In May, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that wind power could provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, supporting 500,000 jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as taking 140 million vehicles off the road, and saving four trillion gallons of water.
"Wind energy installations are well ahead of the curve for contributing 20 percent of the U.S. electric power supply by 2030 as envisioned by the U.S. Department of Energy," said outgoing AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher, who has held the post for the past 19 years.
That 21,000 megawatts of capacity are expected to generate over 60 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2009, enough to serve over 5.5 million American homes.