The U.S. wind industry isn’t winding down anytime soon – this month, the industry hit a historic milestone: U.S. wind turbines can now produce 50 gigawatts of electricity.
American wind energy now powers the equivalent of nearly 13 million American homes. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the benefits of generating 50 GW of clean wind energy include:
Burning Less Coal
Wind energy can now generate the same amount of electricity as 44 coal-fired power plants. For reference, just one coal plant emits roughly 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Reducing CO2 Emissions
The offset CO2 emissions from U.S. wind is equivalent to taking 14 million gasoline-powered cars off the road.
Switching to wind power means saving water. Compared with thermal electric generation, wind power conserves 30 billion gallons of water a year.
Double or Nothing
Every few years, the industry doubles its growth. In 2003, the industry reached the electric generating capacity of 5 GW. In 2006, its capacity increased to 10 GW. By 2008, it jumped to 25 GW, and four years later, it’s doubled to hit the historic milestone reached this month.
Over the past four years, wind installations represented over a third of all new energy generating capacity in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy. The proposed number of wind projects now outnumbers all other forms of generation, which points to a future where wind is an even bigger part of the energy mix.
A Windy Future
By 2030, wind energy has the potential to meet up to 20 percent of energy needs in the U.S., according to the DOE. Some advancements to make before we get there include better integration with the grid, improving the reliability of wind systems, and increasing wind manufacturing capacity.
Reaching the 20 percent wind energy goal, the DOE estimates, would offset CO2 emissions by 626 million tons, save over 450 billion gallons of water, and create over two million U.S. jobs.
Top image courtesy Flickr user Brent Danley.