The 50 gigawatts (GW) online today means that U.S. wind turbines now power the equivalent of nearly 13 million American homes, or as many as in Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, Alabama, and Connecticut combined. In addition, 50 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity:
- Represents the generating power of 44 coal-fired power plants, or 11 nuclear power plants.
- Avoids emitting as much carbon dioxide as taking 14 million cars off the road.
- Conserves 30 billion gallons of water a year compared to thermal electric generation, since wind energy uses virtually no water.
To put this into perspective, it is estimated that the United States used 3.9 million gigawatts in 2011.
Now back to the good news, projects recently connected to the grid:
- Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley wind farm, 30 miles east of Ely, Nevada (151.8 megawatts, or MW)
- Enel Green Power North America’s Rocky Ridge wind farm in Oklahoma (148.8 MW)
- enXco’s Pacific Wind project in Kern County, California (140 MW)
- Utah Associated Municipal Power’s Horse Butte project in Idaho (57.6 MW)
- First Wind’s Kaheawa Wind II wind farm in Hawaii (21 MW)50,000 megawatts = 50 gigawatts
It took us a long time to hit 10 MW in 2006, then much less to hit 25 MW in 2008, and now, in 2012, we are at 50 MW. The ramp-up continues all over the country as 39 states now have wind power feeding their grids. There is even good news on the “Made in USA” front with 60% of the sourcing coming from home, compared to 25% in 2005.