The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Washington, D.C., recently posted the following predictions at www.awea.org about the short-term future of the wind market. They will be of interest to EW readers tracking this evolving technology.

Wind power may be the second-largest source of new U.S. power generating capacity for sixth year in a row in 2010

While wind makes up only about two percent of total electricity supply, it's one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country, second only to natural gas generation in terms of new capacity built each year since 2005. Look for wind to continue to be a leading source of new power generation in 2010.

AWEA says a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) in any future Congressional jobs legislation is critical

The association says the most important job creation policy that Congress can enact is a national RES that provides the long-term certainty that companies need to invest in new facilities and train workers to make the 8,000 components that go into a modern wind turbine. The U.S. wind energy industry has seen furloughs and layoffs, and AWEA says the short-term American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has provided a lifeline. AWEA is lobbying for a strong RES to create hard targets that will “fortify the U.S. manufacturing base and create tens of thousands of jobs.”

Wind turbines are becoming more powerful

Over 1,000 wind turbines larger than 2 megawatts (MW) are already in commercial operation in the U.S, and the year-end order for 338 GE 2.5-MW wind turbines for the Shepherd's Flat wind project in Oregon is the harbinger of a shift in orders toward such larger turbines. AWEA's forecast assumes that inventory will have been exhausted and that there will be a growing market for wind turbine orders in 2010 and beyond, spurred by a national RES. The trend toward larger turbines is driven by economics: taller turbines with larger swept areas produce more power at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour.

States and regional operators will continue working through transmission issues

While federal transmission policy is under heated discussion as part of pending energy legislation, many key decisions are made on transmission investment at the state and regional level. AWEA says Texas and the Southwest Power Pool are beginning to see investment in new transmission lines and infrastructure as the fruit of favorable transmission cost allocation policies. The wind industry will be closely watching the Midwest Independent System Operator to see if it adopts a similarly favorable cost allocation policy.

There will be a bigger market for small wind systems

Another year of record growth is expected for the small wind market in 2010 due to a federal investment tax credit that has been expanded to provide an eight-year, uncapped 30 percent tax credit for small wind systems for homeowners and small businesses. The introduction of an industry safety and performance standard will also shape the industry and provide a new way to help consumers compare turbines.

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