The U.S. market for small wind turbines (capacities of 100 kilowatts (kW) and less) grew 78 percent in 2008, with a total of 17.3 megawatts (MW) of new installed capacity, according to a new study from The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). About 38.7 MW of new small wind capacity was installed globally in 2008.
Denise Bode, CEO for AWEA, said in a press release that strong federal policies like the federal investment tax credit for small wind are critical to future growth. Wind energy leaders recently discussed how much the industry will rely on government incentives and standards to maintain its high growth at the Wind Power 2009 Conference in May. AWEA recently reported that more than 2,800 WM of wind energy was installed in the United States over the first quarter of 2009, which is enough to power 816,000 homes.
The 2009 Small Wind Global Market Study finds that U.S. manufacturers sold about half of all small wind turbines installed worldwide last year, with the U.S. market share accounting for $77 million of the $156 million global total. Growth in the small wind sector is attributed to increased private investment that has allowed manufacturing volumes to increase, particularly for the commercial segment of the market (systems 21-100 kW systems), according to the study.
However, the largest segment of the market is residential (1-10 kW), where growth was also driven by investment and manufacturing economies of scale, together with rising residential electricity prices and a heightened public awareness of wind energy.
The study includes a poll of small wind manufacturers, who project a 30-fold growth in the U.S. small wind market within five years, despite a global recession. Much of the estimated growth is expected to be driven by the new eight-year 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) passed by Congress in October 2008 and augmented in February 2009, according to AWEA.