The wind industry-related exchange traded fund has taken off as the U.S. starts switching over more to alternative energy sources.

The First Trust ISE Global Wind Energy Index Fund (NYSEArca: FAN) has gained 42.6% year-to-date. [Wind Energy ETF Puffs Up]

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. energy consumers added 175 megawatts of wind turbines in 2012, or a 62% increase over 2011, with $410 million in total investments, Bloomberg reports.

Additionally, utility-scale wind farm capacity rose to 13.1 gigawatts in 2012, or a 90% increase year-over-year, with $25 billion invested, according to the DOE.

“Key factors driving the record growth included the then-planned expiration of federal tax incentives at the end of 2012, improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technology, and continued state policies supporting wind energy,” the DOE said.

The cost of installing wind turbines is also going down as the U.S. relies less on imports and more on domestic producers.

The DOE found that “focusing on selected trade categories, and when presented as a fraction of total equipment-related wind turbine costs, the overall import fraction is estimated to have declined considerably, from 75% in 2006–2007 to 28% in 2012.”

Wind power was the largest source of U.S. electric-generating capacity additions for 2012, accounting for 43% of new capacity last year.

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