Energy production is one of the hottest topics in political and environmental circles right now. Leaders around the world and in the United States are looking for ways to invest in forms of production that provide both a clean environmental footprint and offer energy independence for the U.S., breaking a nearly century long grip by harmful sources such as foreign oil. Recent data shows that 2012 was a record year for wind energy in the U.S. and the state of Texas is leading the charge to a cleaner future.
Winds of Change
A report released in April 2013 showed that during 2012, wind energy accounted for 42% of new energy production capacity in the U.S. and also set a new record for wind turbine installation. During 2012 there were some 6,700 new wind turbines installed across the country capable of providing power to an estimated 3.5 million homes.
Wind power production grew by 28% during 2012, and with 45,100 wind turbines up and running at the end of 2012 there is enough wind energy to power 15.2 million homes across the country.
Everything is Bigger in Texas
Life is simply bigger in Texas. The state is the second largest and second most-populous in the United States. With some 26.1 million residents and an economy that generates $1.027 trillion a year as of 2010, the state of Texas alone has an economy as large as the nations of India and Canada, the 11th and 12th largest in the world respectively.
Texas was the heart of the oil boom at the turn of the 20th century, and today remains a leader in procuring and refining oil and gas for the nation. Now the Lone Star State finds itself at the forefront of the nation’s push for cleaner, renewable energy in the 21st century.
The state experienced an 18% growth in installed wind production last year and now leads the nation in wind energy production capacity. Texas wind projects, numbering around 40, contributed an additional 1,800 megawatts of power to the growing wind energy base in Texas which currently stands at 12.2 gigawatts. Wind power now accounts for 9.2% of all energy generated in the state.
West Texas and the Panhandle region of the state serve as the epicenter for wind power in Texas. These regions experience some of the highest sustained winds in the country, with wind speeds in Amarillo, Texas averaging a sustained 13 mph during the summer months. Wind power generates nearly 9,000 megawatts currently from this region of Texas alone.
With 2,000 wind turbines already churning across West Texas, energy producers show little sign of stopping now. With construction and production costs for wind energy dropping, and technologies improving, investment in wind energy in Texas is only going to grow.
According to the Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse, wind energy production is already a $20 billion a year industry. For 2013, Texas is planning for an additional $1 billion in construction and an expansion program with $7 billion in investment designed to expand the power grid to connect rural areas with metro areas.