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Wind Power Beats Gas, Becomes Leader In New US Electricity Capacity

Wind farm climbing team

The United States wind industry had a record-breaking year in 2012 with a total of 10,689 megawatts of new installations, making it the leading installer of new electricity capacity, even ahead of natural gas.

These numbers are part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s report on U.S. energy trends and highlights from 2012. Natural gas installations reached 8,746 megawatts of new capacity, coal installed 4,510 new megawatts, and solar installed 1,475 new megawatts.

Additionally, wind is still a relatively new industry, so there is a lot of room for improvement. The energy it delivers is extremely efficient in comparison to natural gas, which loses as much as 54% of its energy as waste heat, compared to less than a 1% loss from wind. This could lead to a natural gas plateau which would then lead to rising prices, opening up new opportunities for wind energy.

The threat of the end of the production tax credit for wind energy undoubtedly also played a key factor in the wind power increase, which was set to expire at the end of 2012 but at the last minute was extended. Do you think we will continue to see a rise in wind installations, or will it slow down in the future?

Image CC licensed by Idaho National Laboratory

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