The U.S. market for small wind turbines has reached 100 MW of installed capacity, expanding 15 percent above 2008, according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association. Small wind systems are defined as those with rated capacities of 100 kilowatts (kW) or less, and are used primarily to power individual homes, farms, and small businesses.
The U.S. market now accounts for about half of the global small wind turbine market, according to the report. The report credited federal and state incentives for the market growth. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) expanded the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for small wind turbines in 2009, allowing consumers to take 30% of the total cost of a small wind system as a tax credit. According to the report, the ITC was perhaps the most important factor in last year’s small wind turbine market growth.
The report found 9,800 units were sold in the U.S. in 2009, representing 20.3 MW of new capacity, bringing the total number of small wind turbines installed in the U.S. to approximately 100,000.
The U.S. is also the world’s leading manufacturer of small wind turbines: about two-thirds of all small wind systems sold in the world last year were made by U.S. manufacturers.
During the recession of 2009, $80 million of private equity was invested into small wind turbine manufacturing companies, boosting to over $250 million the total equity invested over the past five years. This investment helped manufacturers increase production, lower costs, meet sustained demand, and even acquire competitors, according to the report.
The report predicted that the U.S. will reach 1 GW of installed capacity by 2015 if current trends continue.
Earlier this year, Sam’s Club installed “a significant number” of on-site micro wind turbines.
JCPenney has also been testing wind power.