After decreasing by almost 50 percent in 2010 the US wind installations began to show signs of recovery in 2011. Wind farms have proliferated across the United States over the past decade, they now generate 3 percent of the nation’s electricity. Wind power has installed 35 percent of all new American electric generation in the last five years. Wind energy is also one of the fastest growing new sources of US manufacturing jobs. American wind power accounts for 75,000 jobs today, and can grow to almost 100,000 jobs four years from now and according to a Bush Administration study, wind can support 500,000 American jobs less than 20 years from now. The U.S. now has over 400 manufacturing facilities in 43 states involved in wind turbine manufacturing. This represents a 12-fold growth in domestic manufacturing over the last six years.
Globally 2011 was a good year for wind installations in China, India and Canada and even Europe. Led by Brazil and Mexico, we are starting to see major growth in Latin America. The US market, although not up to the 10 GW installed in 2009, will be well ahead of 2010’s 5 GW market.
Increasing fossil fuel prices mean that as far as cost efficiency is concerned the wind power could achieve parity by 2016. The best wind farms in the world already produce power as economically as coal, gas and nuclear generators.
More than 7 GW of wind capacity is expected to be installed in the US in 2012, a 25% increase on 2011. The growth in wind is fueled by the proximate expiration of the Loan Guarantee programme, the production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC), the main drivers for the wind market.
As developers of wind energy rush to complete projects before the expiration of the PTCs at the end of this year, the market will experience an acceleration of installations, especially during Q1 and Q2 of 2012. If the PTCs are not extended, a major halt throughout the entire US wind industry can be anticipated in the second half of 2012.
© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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