Despite the continued economic slide and bad news for some wind farm projects due to the “credit crunch”, the American Wind Energy Association reports that another 1,389 megawatts of wind energy was installed in the 3rd quarter, bringing the total capacity in completed wind projects to date for the year to 4,204 MW.
With more wind projects still underway and scheduled for completion this year, the estimated 2008 total for wind energy development stands at 7,500 MW – enough to power about 2.2 million homes – and is well on the way of becoming the fourth record year in row. Last year’s record was 5,249 megawatts.
Increased manufacturing base
In the report released last week, the AWEA also pointed to a growing domestic manufacturing base for wind projects in the United States. In 2008 eight new wind turbine component plants opened and nine facilities were expanded, adding 9000 new jobs. In addition, 19 new wind component plants have been announced.
The share of domestic production of component parts has risen from 30% in 2005 to 50% today.
BP favors doing business in the U.S.
Adding to the cautiously optimistic outlook is the announcement from BP that they will abandon plans for wind and other renewable project in Great Britain in favor of pursuing such projects in the United States. BP cites U.S. tax incentives, a difficult bureaucracy in Great Britain, and president-elect Barack Obama’s pledge to spend $150 billion in ten years for renewable energy development as reasons for the move.
Slower growth in 2009
Growth is expected to remain strong, 8,000 MW of new capacity is currently under construction for completion this year and next, but the year-on-year record growth is not expected to continue in 2009. The wild card is, of course, the economy, which continues to “devolve”. According to the report, another factor was the late extension of renewable energy tax credits making investors in new projects jittery. To that point, the AWEA report stressed the importance of the new administration promoting a long-term and stable policy for renewable energy development (the report was released before it was known who the next president would be).
The full 20–page pdf report is available online.