U.S. Wind-Power Capacity Expansion Not Fast Enough, AWEA Says

July 30, 2009
Trade group sees slowdown in orders, manufacturing, and calls for long-term federal policy

According to a Q2 2009 market report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), installations of new wind-power generating capacity totaled 1,210 megawatts from April through July. The second-quarter figures bring total 2009 installations to more than 4,000 MW, though AWEA indicates that orders for new wind turbines and their components is declining — a development it called “troubling.”
The total new capacity installed in the second quarter is roughly the same the 1,194 MW installed in the second quarter of 2008.

The association also stated that manufacturing volumes for turbines and components is declining. AWEA did not cite specific reasons for the slowdown, but instead used its report to call for a “firm, long-term renewable energy policy” that will spur investments in new wind-energy plants.

AWEA CEO Denise Bode stated that such a policy could be achieved if the U.S. Congress and the Administration pass a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) with strong early targets.

AWEA said the number of completed wind farm installations is encouraging, but said that the U.S. industry had previously been on track for greater expansion, and pointed out that the wind-power industry continues to grow on a global scale.

The U.S. projects completed during the second quarter are situated in 10 states (tops on the list are Texas, 454 MW; Iowa, 160 MW; and Missouri, 146 MW), and represent enough electricity to power 350,000 homes.

Total U.S. wind power generating capacity is now nearly 29,440 MW, according to the report. AWEA claims U.S. wind-power generating capacity offsets an average of 54 million tons of carbon annually, reducing carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2%.

However, Bode said the wind power’s prospects in the U.S. are “very bright but still far from certain.” She said that investments in manufacturing and construction show that the nation still has not embraced the prospects of wind power.

“The reality is that if the nation doesn’t have a firm, long-term renewable energy policy in place, large global companies and small businesses alike will hold back on their manufacturing investment decisions or invest overseas, in countries like China that are soaring ahead,” according to Bode. “The instances where manufacturing investment is moving forward in the U.S. are in states like Kansas that have demonstrated a commitment to renewable energy and passed a renewable electricity standard. This type of commitment now needs to be made at the national level.”