NEW YORK, Nov 7 (Reuters) - U.S. wind power installations are projected to jump 63 percent this year amid concern about global warming and rising fuel prices, an industry group said on Wednesday.
The U.S. wind industry is on track to complete a total of 4,000 megawatts worth of installations in 2007, or about enough to power 1 million average homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
The new projection beats AWEA’s previous expectation for the year by about 33 percent.
“This is great news because it means that new, readily available, clean generation is reaching consumers at a time when electricity demand and global warming concerns are both on the rise,” said Randall Swisher, AWEA’s executive director, said in a release.
Texas leads the country this year in wind power installments with California, Iowa and Minnesota close behind.
While wind power growth has been strong in recent years, it only generates a tiny fraction of U.S. electricity. Last year alternative power sources, including solar energy, but excluding hydropower, generated 2.4 percent of U.S. electricity, according to the the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Wind power has benefited amid concern about emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from coal, which generates about half of U.S. electricity and natural gas, which generates about 20 percent of the country’s power. In some areas of the country, wind power costs roughly the same as traditional power from the grid.
The U.S. Congress is considering bills that would limit greenhouse gas emissions, though President George W. Bush has opposed such regulations.
AWEA said a long-term national policy to promote alternative energy is needed to assure strong wind power growth going forward. A federal production tax credit for renewable energy will expire in December next year.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy