Earlier today the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory released its’ 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report, which gives a fairly detailed description of the wind industry to date, as well as points out some key characteristics and data from 2009. As I was reading through the information, looking at all the graphs, and taking in the different charts, I couldn’t help but think about the tremendous growth the U.S. is encountering and the even more phenomenal growth that lies ahead.
According to this report, wind power installations in 2009 reached roughly 10,000 MW and accounted for over $21 billion invested. This investment from investor owned utilities (IOU’s), venture capitalists, and local public utilities amounts to a new national record for installed annual wind power; a record that is 20% higher than its predecessor. Now, as we think about this number and the fact that the wind industry is growing faster and stronger than ever before, we also need to take into account what that number means relative to our nations total power portfolio.
To give some reference, at the end of 2009, the cumulative wind power capacity in the United States was just over 35,000 MW. This is about 35% more than the next country in installed capacity, China at 25,853 MW with Germany close behind at 25,813 MW. Now several countries are starting to achieve relatively high levels of wind power penetration in their electricity grids with Denmark leading the pack at roughly 20%. Following Denmark is Spain at 14%, Ireland at 11%, Germany at 8%, and the point that really astounded me… the U.S. at only 2.5%.
Now I don’t know about you, but with all the chatter about how the U.S. leads the world in installed wind capacity and how we’ve been a leader in new annual installations for four years in a row, I was beginning to think that we might at least be making a dent in the overall energy portfolio. But, alas, we are not. However, for those of us involved in the wind industry, this is good news. With 29 states plus the District of Columbia implementing renewable portfolio standards that far exceed 2.5%, our government and our policy-makers are priming the country for some extreme growth in the next few years. I guess that would explain the attraction the worlds top turbine OEM’s have to the U.S. with 7 of 10 top OEM’s currently producing domestically and 2 with concrete plans to produce domestically.
What are your thoughts? Is the industry primed for extreme growth, or will the demise of the tax credits and grants in 2013 cripple the industry for the foreseeable future?
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