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US Wind Power’s Dismal Quarter

The U.S. wind energy industry has experienced its slowest quarter since 2007.

The U.S. industry added just 395 megawatts of wind-powered electric generating capacity in the third quarter of 2010, making it the lowest quarter since 2007, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

The industry added only 700 megawatts in the second quarter of 2010.

Year-to-date installations stood at 1,634 MW, down 72 percent versus 2009, and the lowest level since 2006. In 2010, wind projects in the U.S. are being installed at half the rate as in Europe, and a third of the rate as in China.

Factors include lack of long-term U.S. energy policies, such as a Renewable Electricity Standard, and resulting lack of certainty for business, which has the country’s utilities failing to move forward with wind build-out plans, AWEA reports. Such policies are already in place in China and Europe, resulting in more than $35 billion of expected investment in 2010 – nearly four times the investment the U.S. will see this year. The industry is calling on Congress to match such efforts to establish long-term policy.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and other third-party sources show that wind accounted for 39 percent of new installed capacity in 2009, versus 13 percent from coal; in the first nine months of 2010, however, the ratio flipped, and wind accounted for only 14 percent, versus 39 percent from coal.

Other third-quarter results include:
– Total utility-scale wind capacity installed in the U.S. through September 2010 reached 36,698 MW.
– Some 4,700 MW of projects have started construction in the past six months.
– Over 10 new requests for proposals for utility-scale wind projects were issued in the quarter.
– At least nine new wind projects signed long-term Power Purchase Agreements in the third quarter, which will result in over 700 MW of new wind capacity if all come to fruition.

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