Another form of energy is making headlines. This time wind energy is taking the spotlight. Reports released this week show wind energy became the top source of new electricity generation capacity in 2012. With about US $25 billion in investments, wind made up 43% of the new electric additions last year, the US Department of Energy (DOE) said in a news release. The Wind Technologies Market Report, released by the DOE and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, revealed that total wind power capacity surpassed 60 gigawatts (gW) by year-end 2012 after more than 13 gW of new capacity was added to the grid. The total is enough to power more than 15 million homes annually, said the DOE, adding, the “country’s cumulative installed wind energy capacity has increased more than 22-fold since 2000.” That is good news for places where wind has a share of the energy market. These include South Dakota and Kansas, where wind energy accounted for more than 20% of the total annual electricity consumption, the DOE said in the release. In terms of gW installed, Texas led the rest with more than 12 gW. Findings of another report, the 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications, showed “distributed wind in the US reached a 10-year cumulative installed capacity of more than 812 megawatts [MW] at the end of 2012 – representing more than 69,000 units across all 50 states. Between 2011 and 2012, US distributed wind capacity grew by 175 MW, with about 80% of this growth coming from utility-scale installations.” These reports came a few days after the US Department of Interior held its first offshore competitive renewable energy lease sale. The two leases, covering 164,750 acres total, were provisionally awarded to Deepwater Wind New England. Although wind is not expected to overtake fossil fuels as the world’s leading energy source, having a diverse energy supply has its benefits. Adding wind to the mix further expands domestic energy production, without increasing CO2 emissions. Growth in the wind industry also is leading to more jobs. The wind technologies market report pointed out that 72% of the wind turbine equipment – blades, gears, towers, etc. – installed in 2012 was made in the US. That figure was nearly three times the 2006 to 2007 percent. Job creation is nothing to balk at. The energy industry, overall, continues to be a main catalyst for robust economic activity – led by development in shale plays. “According to industry estimates, the wind sector employs over 80,000 American workers, including workers at manufacturing facilities up and down the supply chain, as well as engineers and construction workers who build wind installations,” the release said. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at email@example.com.
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