The US installed a record number of wind farms in 2012, totaling 13.2 gigawatts of capacity, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The surge in production is attributed to two factors, namely falling costs for wind power and a production tax credit that was due to expire on December 31st. As a result in the surge in production, the US now produces 60 gigawatts of wind energy, which is about six percent of the nation's total energy outout.
Though wind energy accounts for a small fraction of the US's total energy production, in states such as Texas, wind energy is as plentiful as energy produced from natural gas. California, Kansas, and Texas comprise the top three states in terms of wind energy production, while Pennsylvania is the only state in the North East in the top ten (number nine).
US growth likely won't continue through 2013
While wind farms exploded in 2012, the report notes that the growth likely won't be sustained through 2013, even though the production tax credit was renewed by Congress through the rest of the year. The uncertainty about the tax credit has already put a damper on new wind farm construction, as companies did not plan ahead for the credit to be available in 2013.
The US may have had a record year in wind farm expansion, but it's not the only country looking to wind as a new energy source. Just this week, Japan revealed plans to build the world's largest offshore wind farm starting in July, as reported by New Scientist. The project includes construction of 143 turbines on platforms a mere 16 kilometers off the coast Fukushima, where the Daiichi nuclear reactor suffered devastating damage from an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. The new wind farm is expected to produce one gigawatt of energy when it is completed in 2020. Fukushima hopes to be completely reliant on renewable energy sources by the year 2040, using a combination of wind and solar energy.
Fukushima hopes to completely rely on renewable energy by 2040
Reliance on alternative forms of energy has been a hot button topic for decades, as many have looked to various options to reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy. While we are still a long ways away from fully replacing fossil fuels in our modern society, the expansion of wind farms and solar collection sites does help to lessen the impact that burning fossil fuels has on the earth's environment.