The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

US Continues Breaking Records, Installs 9922 MW of Wind in 2009

In early 2009, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and industry experts predicted that the year would see a drop in the amount of wind capacity installed in the United States. The continuing recession, lack of tax credit financing and a reduction in demand for energy were expected to cause a drop in installations by as much as 50% from 2008 levels. However, yesterday after the numbers were tallied, it turned out to be another record breaking year for the U.S. wind energy industry with nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) put in the ground.

The 9,922 MW installed last year expanded the nation’s wind plant fleet by 39% and brought total wind power generating capacity in the U.S. to over 35,000 MW. The five-year average annual growth rate for the industry is now 39%, up from 32% between 2003 and 2008.

These new projects place wind power alongside natural gas as the leading source of new electricity generation for the country. Together, the two sources account for about 80% of the new capacity added in the country last year. The wind energy industry brought over 4,000 MW of new capacity online in the fourth quarter of 2009 alone.

“The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon and protecting consumers,” said Denise Bode, AWEA's CEO. “But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing — the canary in the mine — is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow."

In a conference call, Bode called for the U.S. to set hard national targets for renewables, which would provide the incentive for wind companies to set up manufacturing facilities in the country.

Broken down by state, total installation numbers show that Texas continues to lead the states with a total of 9,410 MW installed. Iowa is second with 3,670 MW installed; California is third with 2,794 installed; Washington is fourth with 1,980 MW installed and Minnesota rounds out the top five states with 1,809 MW of capacity installed.

Texas also led the way in added capacity in 2009, with 2,292 MW installed. Other leading states in 2009 included Indiana with 905 MW, Iowa with 879 MW, Oregon with 691 MW and Illinois with 632 MW. The number of states with at least one utility scale project rose to 36 in 2009.

The industry cites the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the clear commitment to renewables from the Obama Administration as key drivers of the year's success. The quick action on releasing ARRA cash grants for wind projects in the middle of last summer helped to free up capital for the industry. Wind developers took advantage of much of the $2 billion in grants that were released and built out 44 wind projects in 22 states, representing 3,200 MW of installed capacity.

The year wasn't an unqualified success, however. The lack of a long-term policy at the federal level, combined with the continuing reticence of investors to get back into the manufacturing sector caused a drop in investment in wind manufacturing compared to 2008, with one-third fewer wind power manufacturing facilities online, announced and expanded in 2009.

Steve Sawyer, chairman of the Global Wind Energy Council said that the downturn in U.S. manufacturing and demand for new turbines is in line with many markets around the world and is a symptom of the recession.

"It was a tough year obviously, especially at the beginning when we felt the real aftershocks of the financial meltdown in the fall of 2008. There were not an awful lot of new orders," Sawyer said. "It's a bit of a different world and I'm hoping that the wind market continues to recover."

The result was net job losses in the manufacturing sector in the U.S., which were compounded by low orders and high inventory. Because more jobs were added in operations, maintanence and construction, total nation-wide job numbers in the industry remained flat at 85,000. This is in some ways welcome news to the industry, which expected to lose between 25 and 50% of its workforce without the federal government's investment through the ARRA.

Recovery Act incentives spurred the growth of construction, operations, maintenance and management jobs, helping the industry to save and create jobs in those sectors.

The manufacturing sector did receive a boost last month when it was announced that US $350 million in tax credits would go to more than 50 companies to invest in manufacturing of towers, blades, gears, gearboxes, generators, nacelles assembly and other components. AWEA cautioned that some of these projects will only move forward if other political action, like passing a national renewable energy target, is taken.

The noticeable disconnect between record installations and a drop in manufacturing investment was the result of the availability of large inventories of turbines that followed the market's collapse in late 2008, according to AWEA. The development of a "grey market" of developer-to-developer turbine sales also led to fewer new turbine orders in 2009.

Looking forward, AWEA said that it will be critical for Congress to pass an energy bill that includes a strong renewable energy target in order for the industry to continue its growth.

Passing such a bill could be a challenge, as Democrats no longer hold a 60-vote majority in the Senate. Gramlich said that Congressional Democrats will likely reevaluate their agenda and move forward on a smaller energy bill before the midterm elections this coming fall.

AWEA's projections for 2010 remain murky. Gramlich said that if there is a "strong political and market signal," the U.S. could see as much as 10 gigawatts (GW) installed again this year, which would include the 3 GW currently under construction. Without that signal, AWEA cautioned that it could be much less, especially if natural gas prices remain at their current levels and domestic manufacturing doesn't rebound.

Scott Sklar, president of the renewable energy consulting firm The Stella Group Ltd., said that he sees the 2009 wind numbers as part of positive trend in the industry that he expects to continue through this year, despite ongoing economic problems.

"The wind data confirms a cleantech 2009 trend, essentially that all energy efficiency and renewable energy markets expanded significantly during he height or the world economic crises. Sales should increase again in 2010," Sklar said.

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Stolen Solar Panels and Sabotage A Challenge for Powering India With Renewable Energy

Anindya Upadhyay, Bloomberg Disappointment spread across Tarun Singh’s face when he saw that parts of his solar power microgrid in eastern India’...

States Already Seek To Delay Clean Power Plan

Andrew Harris, Bloomberg Fifteen states led by coal-rich West Virginia asked a federal court to stall Obama administration rules intended to c...

Global Renewable Energy Roundup: China, Kenya, Turkey, India Seeking More Renewables

Bloomberg News Editors China is being encouraged by three industry groups to double the nation’s solar-power goal for 2020 to make up for sh...

With Vast Amounts of Geothermal, Wind and Hydropower, Why No Solar In New Zealand?

James Ellsmoor, Contributor New Zealand has built an international brand on environmentalism and the great outdoors. So it is unsurprising that t...

PRESS RELEASES

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

OFS Announces Commercial Availability of InvisiLight® MDU Optical Solution for Multiple Dwelling Units

OFS, a leading-edge designer, manufacturer and supplier of innovative fiber optic netwo...

New local energy partnership brings innovative solar tracker to Washington State

A new partnership will bring the innovative AllEarth Solar Tracker solar electric syste...

30 days to GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has announced that it is only 30 days to go to t...

FEATURED BLOGS

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospect that owns or manages a building with high ...

Shedding Some Light on a Taxing Situation for Community-Shared Solar

For renters and for property owners with inadequate roof space, the many benefits of solar electricity may seem out o...

FINANCIAL NEWS

Former Editor at RenewableEnergyWorld.com, now Assistant Counsel at the New York State Department of Public Service, regulating New York's electricity, gas, and telecommunications industries.

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...

Distributed Wind Energy Workshop

Description: Distributed wind energy is electricity that is produced for...

IREC 3iAwards

Join us at the 3iAwards ceremony at 4pm PDT Wednesday, Septemb...

COMPANY BLOGS

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

Fact Check: AWEA represents American wind power

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is proud of its members for ...

Koch Professor drops his Koch title, still makes same errors plus s...

The Koch Professor’s title isn’t the only thing that’s...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS