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How Wind Energy is Being Used

For over a decade, wind energy has been the fastest growing energy technology worldwide, achieving an annual growth rate of over 30 percent. In 2001, worldwide installed wind capacity surpassed 23,000 MW. In the United States, more than 1,700 MW of new wind projects were installed in 2001, bringing total U.S. installed capacity to approximately 4,200 MW. Approximately 500 MW of this installed capacity is located on Federal lands in the western U.S. managed by BLM. Wind energy project development in the Great Plains and the Midwest was particularly strong, tapping into the large wind resource there. Factors contributing to this boom include state legislative requirements for greater use of wind power, the falling cost of wind energy, and the benefits of wind energy in competitive utility markets.

Wind energy accounts for 6 percent of renewable electricity generation and 0.1 percent of total electricity supply. However, advances by research labs, universities, utilities, and wind energy developers have cut wind energy's costs by more than 80 percent during the last twenty years. The industry is poised for continued growth. In the U.S., abundant energy potential can be found in the Northeast, the Great Plains, and the West. In addition, developers are evaluating the potential for offshore wind energy production on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.