For Wind Power, 2012 was a Good Year

  • Posted on: 5 April 2013
  • By: Jay Oyster

Wind Turbines at Holderness, Wikipedia, Creative CommonsI like to follow news about alternative energy. I have ever since I was a kid and the only people who installed windmills were farmers on the prairie to pump water to their cattle, and those weirdos in California. We've come a long way.  Last year was the first year in history in which of all of the new electrical generating capacity installed in the United States, more than half was wind turbines.  We, humanity, are finally learning, I guess.

The best place I've found to find info about wind generating capacity worldwide is what's now known as Wind Power Monthly. Although they've closed off most of their content now to only subscribers . . . a natural outgrowth of the fact that the industry itself is becoming more real as a business, they still provide some basic statistics to the unwashed masses. Being one of the most unwashed, I like to read their year-end reviews. This years', in particular, is outstanding.

More than 51GW of new electrical generating capacity was installed around the world in 2012.  To put that in real-world terms,  (at least terms that are real in my world)  that is enough new power generated annually by wind turbines to send a Delorean time machine on 42 trips through time.  Emmett Brown and I are ecstatic about this.

To all of the people who think these things are ugly, that they just damage the view of nature . . . get over yourselves. Wind turbines are the most attractive industrial installations that humanity has ever created. They are also, slowly but surely, reducing the world's addiction to fossil fuels. Maybe our kids will actually survive to live in a world that doesn't look like a scene from one of the Mad Max movies. 

Some other interesting stats from the report:

  • the US still has the world lead in total installed wind capacity, just barely ahead of China
  • For the second or third year in a row, China installed more new wind genating capacity than the U.S., but not by as wide a margin as in previous years
  • HOWEVER, the US only extended the alternative energy tax credit for a single year, and these projects tend to take more time than that. So this year will probably be a down year for new installations in the US, which is a bummer.  
  • Worldwide, wind now generates enough power to power the whole country of France. That may not seem like much, (although France is a large, populous, industrialized country) but considering the miniscule percentage that wind provided just five years ago, that fact is astonishing. 

We, in the United States, and other large countries such as India and Germany, need to get on the ball and make sure the long term prospects for wind development contninue to be as good or better than they were in 2012. All of mankind is depending on it.