According to the American Wind Energy Association, the United States is now the leader in wind energy production. Wind energy in 2008 has risen and current wind power capacity is rated at 19,549MW, an increase of 2,726MW from 2007. Germany currently has a wind power capacity of about 23,000MW, but generates less power due to stronger winds in the U.S.
The AEWA also projects that by end of year 2008, some 7,500MW of wind power capacity will be brought online in the United States. This projected capacity demonstrates a 45% increase from 2007. Recent fossil fuel prices and tax incentives have provided a prime environment for wind energy related projects.
One issue causing wind projects to be rushed before the end of 2008, is the uncertainty of federal tax incentives and rebates that are set to expire late 2008. Without these credits, the future of new wind energy projects is in jeopardy. Recent jobs and businesses catering to the wind power industry will have to be scaled back without the benefits experienced in 2008, extended throughout 2009. Though, financial burdens will first be absorbed by the wind industry, these high costs will be passed on to consumers, and create a recess of clean energy production.
AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher stated, “At a time when unemployment is at a 4-year high and the economy needs every stimulus it can get, a rapid extension of the credit should be on any economic priority list for Congress.”
Congress must look to clean energy solutions to help rebuild an economy that threatens the livelihoods of millions of Americans. In addition to providing jobs, wind power can help secure America’s Independence from foreign sources of electricity. The United States has an opportunity to lead the world into new innovating ways of producing energy and electricity, provided U.S. leaders provide incentives to expand the renewable energy infrastructure.