The Long and Windy Road

Despite the recession's headwinds, wind power took great strides in 2009

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Illustration: Jude Buffum
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According to a new U.S. Department of Energy report, 2009 was a banner year for wind power. China led the way, adding almost 14 gigawatts of new capacity for a total of 26 GW in cumulative capacity. The United States kept its overall lead in cumulative capacity by adding 10 GW, representing a 40 percent increase.

By a coincidence, 40 percent was also the share of new U.S. electric generating capacity from wind installations—"the largest single form of [newly on-line] power production," the report said.

The United States and China are at the top of the lists in large part because they're so large. According to the study, written by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, if Texas were a separate nation, its 9.4 GW of total capacity would rank sixth, after India. But other countries are doing even better on a per capita basis. Last year, Portugal added 60 megawatts per million people, while Denmark still comfortably leads in cumulative capacity per capita at 618 MW.