Small Wind Beginning
by Triple Pundit
The U.S. market for small wind turbines grew 78% last year, highlighting heightened interest in, demand for, and use of distributed alternative and renewable power systems. A total 17.3 megawatts worth of new small wind turbines--defined as wind turbines with generation capacities of 100 kilowatts and less--was installed in 2009, according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association released June 1.
"Consumers are looking for affordable ways to improve their energy security and reduce their personal carbon footprint," said Ron Stimmel, AWEA's Small Wind Advocate. "Small wind technology can be an answer to that search. As government policies have caught up with consumer interest, we're seeing people all across the U.S. take advantage of this abundant, domestic natural resource and U.S. manufacturers have been able to meet this increasing demand."
What's even more encouraging is that U.S. manufacturers--such as Mariah Wind profiled here on 3P--accounted for about half of total worldwide small wind turbine sales. U.S. market share made up $77 million of the $156 million global total (38.7 MW), according to the AWEA.
Increased private investment has enabled manufacturers to increase production volumes and lower costs, particularly in the market's commercial segment--systems that range between 21 and 100 kW.
Residential small wind turbines--between 1 and 10 kW-- remains the largest market segment was similarly driven by new investment and the subsequent realization of greater economies of scale. Rising residential electricity prices added to the impetus, according to the AWEA's report.
Like sectors across the economy, AWEA members are looking to additional federal stimulus and renewable energy stimulus and incentives to keep the ball rolling and growing.
"The U.S. wind industry is a growing bright spot in our domestic economy, and the small wind sector is no exception," said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. "Strong federal policies like the federal investment tax credit for small wind are critical to future growth, just as adoption of a federal renewable electricity standard (RES) is essential to growth in the utility-scale market."
Small wind manufacturers polled by the AWEA project a 30-fold increase in the U.S. small wind market within as little as five years, that despite a global recession. "Much of this estimated growth will be spurred by the new eight-year 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) passed by Congress in October 2008 and augmented in February 2009," the AWEA report states.
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