With fossil fuels quickly diminishing, and our reliance on foreign fuels, not-so-ideal nuclear plants, and a host of other environmentally unfriendly sources, something has to be done to fix the problem. And, I’m happy to say, the United States is truly stepping up to the plate. According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2008 the U.S. was home to the largest spike in wind power development throughout the globe, with wind capacity increasing a whopping 60%.
Though it may sound like an oxymoron, wind energy projects accounted for 42% of all new electric generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2008, though wind only delivers nearly 2% of the nation’s electricity supply. This, in essence, shows there’s extremely large room for growth.
According to Green Energy News, “the ‘Wind Technologies Market Report’ analyzes trends in wind power capacity growth, turbine size, turbine prices, installed project costs, project performance, wind power prices, and how wind prices compare to the price of conventional generation. It also describes developer consolidation trends, current ownership and financing structures, and trends among major wind power purchasers. Finally, the report examines other factors impacting the domestic wind power market, including grid integration, transmission issues, and policy drivers. The report concludes with a preview of possible near- to medium-term market developments.”
Some of the most interesting findings in the report included:
– The U.S. is the fastest-growing wind market worldwide. The U.S. has led the world in new wind capacity for four straight years, and overtook Germany to take the lead in cumulative wind capacity installations;
– Growth is distributed across much of the U.S. Texas leads the nation with 7,118 MW of new wind capacity, but 13 states had more than 500 MW of wind capacity as of the end of 2008, with seven topping 1,000 MW, and three topping 2,000 MW. Over 10% of the electricity generation in Iowa and Minnesota now comes from wind power;
– Market growth is spurring manufacturing investments in the U.S. Several major foreign wind turbine manufacturers either opened or announced new U.S. wind turbine manufacturing plants in 2008. Likewise, new and existing U.S.-based manufacturers either initiated or scaled-up production. The number of utility-scale wind turbine manufacturers assembling turbines in the U.S. increased from just one in 2004 (GE) to five in 2008 (GE, Gamesa, Clipper, Acciona, CTC/DeWind);
– Wind turbine prices and installed project costs continued to increase into 2008. Near the end of 2008 and into 2009, however, turbine prices have weakened in response to reduced demand for wind due to the financial crisis;
– Wind project performance has improved over time, but has leveled off in recent years. The longer-term improvement in project performance has been driven in part by taller towers and larger rotors, enhanced project siting, and technological advancements;
– Wind remained economically competitive in 2008. Despite rising project costs, in recent years wind has consistently been priced at or below the price of conventional electricity, as reflected in wholesale power prices. With wholesale prices plummeting in recent months, however, the economic position of wind in the near-term has become more challenging;
– Expectations are for a slower year in 2009, in large part due to the global recession. Projections among industry prognosticators range from 4,400 MW to 6,800 MW of wind likely to be installed in the U.S. in 2009. After a slower 2009, most predictions show market resurgence in 2010 and continuing for the immediate future.
In wrapping this up, I’m happy to see we’re forging ahead with wind technology. And, for all of you investors out there, you may want to think about dipping into the wind energy market. Do some research on the numbers and you will see why I suggest such. 🙂