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Today in Energy

May 17, 2011

Wind capacity additions slowed during 2010

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. Electric Power Annual, Electric Power Monthly
Note: Data for 2010 are preliminary.

Growth in wind-powered electric generating capacity slowed in 2010, increasing by 11% from 2009 after increasing 40% on an average annual basis from 2005-2009. During 2009, U.S. net wind capacity additions totaled 9,645 MW; in 2010, according to preliminary EIA data, capacity additions dropped to 3,657 MW. Despite adverse economic conditions as well as uncertainty about future Federal energy policy, wind generators continue to represent a significant share of capacity additions in the electric power industry, which totaled 16,409 MW in 2010.

Based on the preliminary EIA data, a total of 42 new wind farms (or phased additions to existing wind farms) became operational during 2010. Ten of these were 150 MW or larger.

During 2010, wind capacity was added in 21 States-including Maryland and Delaware, each of which reported its first utility-scale wind plants (there are now wind plants in 37 States). The five States with the largest total additions during 2010 were Texas (572 MW), Minnesota (388 MW), Illinois (350 MW), Wyoming (311 MW), and Indiana (302 MW). Texas added about 6% to its existing wind generating capacity; the other four added 20-30%. The only wind plant to retire during 2010 was the Lalamilo Wind Farm in Hawaii (2.2 MW), which began operation in 1985.

While wind capacity additions exceeded those from all other energy sources in 2008 and 2009, this was not the case in 2010. Preliminary EIA data show 5,217 MW of coal-fired capacity additions and 6,309 MW of natural gas-fired capacity additions during 2010. Coal additions in 2010 were larger than has been typical during the 2005-2009 period; while for natural gas, there was no great departure from activity over the prior five years.