untapped.jpgWind power in the US surged 50 percent last year, breaking a global record with its total capacity of 25 gigwatts (GW) — enough to power approximately seven million homes.

The United States now claims the largest wind energy capacity in the world, taking the lead from Germany, which had 23.9 GW at the end of 2008.

The wind energy industry’s rapid expansion demonstrates the potential for wind power to play a major role in not only providing clean, inexhaustible, domestically produced energy, but also in bolstering our nation’s economy with good jobs.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the wind energy industry channeled approximately $17 billion into the U.S. economy in 2008 and employed about 85,000 workers. More than 55 wind equipment manufacturing facilities were announced or opened in 2008. Wind energy now produces enough electricity to avoid nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions—the equivalent of taking more than 7 million cars off the road.

Texas still leads the nation’s wind energy installations with a total capacity of 7.1 GW, followed by Iowa with 2.7, California with 2.5, Minnesota with 1.7, and Washington with 1.3.

In 2008, fourth-placed China doubled its installed wind power for the forth year running.

The United States is also expected to overtake Germany this year as the world’s biggest producer of solar power.

For information on U.S. wind energy capacity by state, visit www.awea.org.

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