The United States has become the third country to join wind power's exclusive 10 GW club, following on the heels of Germany and Spain. The 10,000 MW milestone was announced last month by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). With a record 3000 MW of new generation expected to come online in the US in 2006, the country's total installed wind power capacity is set to move beyond 12,000 MW by year's end, potentially pushing it ahead of Spain. The current US record for annual wind power installation, 2430 MW, was set last year. Wind was second to natural gas as the leading source of new US power generation in 2005 and the same is likely to hold true this year. "With its current performance, wind energy is demonstrating that it could rapidly become an important part of the nation's power portfolio," said AWEA's Randy Swisher. So far, wind power supplies less than 1% of US electricity. According to AWEA, the industry brought 822 MW online through the first half of the year and nearly half was in Texas, which moved it to the top of the cumulative state ranking, pushing California into second place for the first time. The first commercial wind farms were constructed in California in the early 1980s but, after reaching 1000 MW in 1985, the US did not top the 2000 MW mark until 1999. AWEA expects the US to reach 25,000 MW by 2010 and 100,000 MW by 2020 at current growth rates. That would provide about 6% of expected power needs. Displacement of fossil fuel generation by electricity from 10,000 MW of wind power saves the emission each year of 16 million tons of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas associated with global warming.
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