Is wind power a viable alternative energy source?

More evidence that clear, strong policies are key to renewable energy development came recently via the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

In a statement issued by the association, some statistics about wind energy growth in the country and the states that lead in wind energy development indicate that areas with strong policy are driving development at an impressive pace.

According to the AWEA, 1,100 megawatts of new wind energy capacity was installed across the nation in the first quarter of 2011 alone.  

To top that off, the industry went into the second quarter with another 5,600 megawatts under construction, which the AWEA points out is nearly twice the number of megawatts that the industry reported at this time in both 2009 and 2010. 

Of the 5,600 MW currently under construction, one third is located in Oregon, Washington and California, indicating that the west coast states and their wind energy policies have helped drive development forward.

The first quarter’s 1,100 megawatts of new capacity came online in 12 different states, some of which enjoyed double digit growth.

The  U.S. states with the most capacity additions so far include: Minnesota (293 megawatts), Illinois (240 megawatts), Washington (151 megawatts), Idaho (119 megawatts) and Nebraska (81 megawatts).

In the statement, the AWEA indicates that the wind industry is poised to stay strong, in spite of tough economic and policy conditions.  

Supporting this assertion is the fact that 2/3 of those “under construction” megawatts are already locked in under long-term power purchase agreements with electric utilities.

Caleb Denison, EarthTechling