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American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Notes Top Wind Industry Accomplishments of 2008

Reflecting on the wind industry’s third record year in a row, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today identified the wind industry’s top accomplishments of 2008, and highlighted key environmental and economic achievements.

  • 20% by 2030 Report:

In May, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that wind could provide 20% 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 4 trillion gallons of water (a 40-year supply for the city of Phoenix).

“As climate change, jobs and energy security rise to the top of the national agenda, we have authoritative confirmation that wind power can make a significant contribution to all these problems. It will take leadership to follow the roadmap, but the vision presented is good news not just for the wind industry but for the nation.” -- Dr. James A. Walker, Vice Chairman of Board, enXco Inc.

  • Ground-breaking environmental research: The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC), a government-industry-conservationist alliance including AWEA, Bat Conservation International, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, began a landmark study at the Casselman wind farm in rural Pennsylvania. The project owner and operator, Iberdrola Renewables, is studying how changes to its operations during low wind conditions could help avoid bat deaths at the site. The study is the first of its kind in the U.S.

“We are proud to offer our Casselman site for this important experiment and fully support efforts of the BWEC. We believe this is the responsible thing to do and recognize there is an impact on bats that requires scientific study. We’re committed to hosting this effort, which represents a new area of investigation for the wind industry.” -- Andrew Linehan, director of permitting, Iberdrola Renewables

  • U.S. becomes “Number One” in wind: During the summer of 2008, the U.S. wind industry launched past the 20,000-megawatt (MW) installed capacity milestone, achieving in two years what had previously taken two decades (the 10,000-MW mark was reached in 2006). Also this summer, the U.S. passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation. By the end of September, the U.S. had over 21,000 MW of wind capacity up and running. With additional projects coming on line every week since, the wind industry is on its way to charting another record-shattering year of growth. That 21,000 MW of capacity will generate over 60 billion kWh of electricity in 2009, enough to serve over 5.5 million American homes and eliminating the burning of
  • 30.4 million short tons of coal (enough to fill two 1,000-mile-long coal trains),
  • 91 million barrels of oil per year, or
  • 560 Bcf of natural gas (about 9% of the natural gas used for electricity generation).

“Wind energy installations are well ahead of the curve for contributing 20% of the U.S. electric power supply by 2030 as envisioned by the U.S. Department of Energy.” -- AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher

  • New collaboration with environmental groups: In November, 20 of the nation’s top science-based conservation and environmental groups and wind energy companies announced the creation of the American Wind Wildlife Institute to facilitate timely and responsible development of wind energy while protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat. AWWI will serve as an example for other energy sectors by proactively addressing potential biodiversity impacts as wind energy is more widely deployed.

“Addressing global climate change demands a higher level of collaboration between different sectors and interests. Development of clean, renewable wind energy and wildlife protection need not be mutually exclusive goals. It’s my pleasure to work with industry and non-profit leaders to make this vision a reality.” -- Jan Blittersdorf, CEO of NRG Systems and AWWI vice chair

  • Climate change benefits: If electricity produced by America’s wind farms in 2008 were being generated by the conventional mix of fuels, more than 36 million additional tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) would have been emitted. That’s the equivalent of taking over six million cars off the road.

“The reality of global warming requires fast and wise development of our national wind resources. Reaching at least 20% wind by 2030 is not an option, it's an imperative.”

-- Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club

  • Improving environmental health: If the electricity produced by America’s wind farms were generated using fossil fuels . . .
    • 198,000 additional short tons of acid-rain causing sulfur dioxide (SO2) would have to be abated to achieve the national Acid Rain Program goals;
    • 93,000 additional short tons of smog-causing nitrous oxide (NOx) would have been emitted.

“A clean energy future is within our grasp - as long as we harness America’s wind energy potential.” -- Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

  • 60,000 domestic employees and counting: Wind power continued to provide a critically important stimulus to the faltering U.S. economy this year. In the midst of the economic meltdown, the wind industry remained a bright spot as at least 50 new, expanded or announced wind-related manufacturing facilities were noted all across the nation. Between the first quarter and third quarter of 2008, this expansion created 9,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. Also, in 2008, the wind industry invested more than $15 billion in domestic wind farm construction, which added thousands more domestic employees in construction and operations.

“Interest in continuing to pursue opportunities in Ohio has not diminished as far as [the wind] industry is concerned. I believe that there is a sense that this is one industry that has a bright future and it is full steam ahead.” – Ohio Governor Ted Strickland

  • Greening of AWEA -- Aiming for Gold: AWEA is applying for the “gold” Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard for its new office at 1501 M Street NW, in Washington DC. LEED standards take into account a broad range of considerations, including energy efficiency and renewable energy use, water use, use of recycled and environmentally friendly materials, staff commuting patterns, and more. As part of the effort to green its operations, AWEA is also transitioning to paper “less” workshops and conferences, partnering with its members to offset energy use at the convention center as well as offering a “green travel” option that allows attendees to offset the impacts of travel to the annual WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, and purchasing environmentally-friendly products for AWEA events whenever possible.

“AWEA represents one of the leading industries in the new, green economy and we intend to lead by example. Our commitment to sustainable business is personal as well as corporate and we’re making great strides in our effort to minimize our environmental impacts while improving the efficiency of our every day operations.” -- AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher

  • A growing national commitment to clean energy: After nearly a year of anticipation and uncertainty, Congress approved a one-year extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC), which enables utilities, wind energy developers and manufacturers to continue their investments in new wind farm construction in the U.S. The PTC is the main federal policy for encouraging investments in wind. AWEA is committed to working with the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress to achieve a long-term, full value PTC as a first step toward establishing a long-term, national commitment to developing our homegrown clean energy resources. (

“Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure that 10% of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025.” -- Obama-Biden New Energy for America Plan

“A green, renewable energy economy isn’t some pie-in-the-sky, far-off future. It is now.” -- President-elect Barack Obama

AWEA is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with more than 1,800 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S. promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America. More information on wind energy is available at the AWEA Web site:

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