The U.S. wind industry added only 700 megawatts (MW) in the second quarter of 2010 for a total of 1,230 MW during the first half of 2010, according to a mid-year 2010 market report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). This translates into a drop to date of 57 percent and 71 percent from 2008 and 2009 levels, respectively.
The report also finds that manufacturing investment continues to lag below 2008 and 2009 levels. The AWEA and a coalition of renewable energy, labor, utility, and environmental organizations are calling on Congress to put in place a strong national renewable electricity standard (RES) to spur demand for renewable energy.
Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposed energy bill released yesterday (July 27) does not include a RES.
AWEA researchers say the wind industry’s boom-and-bust cycles not only cause layoffs but also discourage investment in new manufacturing facilities. New wind turbine manufacturing facility openings dropped from 2008 and 2009 levels, with only two new manufacturing facilities coming online in the first half of 2010, compared to seven in 2008 and five in 2009.
The report also indicates that even with more than 5,500 MW under construction and a more active second half of year, AWEA projects that 2010 installations will likely be 25 percent to 45 percent below 2009 installations, depending on policy developments.
It also shows a dramatic drop off in the project development pipeline after 2010.
According to AWEA, power purchase agreements are difficult to obtain due to the drop in overall electricity demand, lower natural gas prices, and no clear national renewable energy policy.
To date in 2010, the U.S. has installed more coal and natural gas power plants than wind and other renewable energy sources, says AWEA. During the previous two years, wind roughly matched new natural gas installations, and together they accounted for about 90 percent of all new annual generating capacity installed over the past five years.