Installations of large-scale turbines (greater than 1 MW) grew almost threefold to 57.5 MW in 2014 from 20.4 MW in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) 2014 Distributed Wind Market Report.
According to the report, distributed wind reached a cumulative capacity of nearly 1 GW (906 MW) in the U.S. in 2014, reflecting nearly 74,000 wind turbines deployed across all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In total, 63.6 MW of new distributed wind capacity were added in 2014, representing nearly 1,700 units (turbines) and $170 million in investment across 24 states. The report says $20.4 million in federal, state, and utility incentives were awarded to distributed wind projects in 2014 – slightly more than the $15.4 million awarded in 2013.
Nonetheless, the report says that the markets for distributed wind systems using small (up to 100 kW) and midsize (101 kW to 1 MW) wind turbines continued to struggle since achieving record sales in 2008 through 2012. Small and midsize turbines added only 3.7 MW and 2.4 MW in 2014, respectively, compared to 5.6 MW and 4.4 MW, respectively, in 2013. So-called distributed wind energy systems produce electricity that is consumed on site as opposed to energy sent through transmission lines to distant end users from large wind farms.
Importantly, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which authored the report for the DOE, says that the definition of a distributed wind turbine is based on where the project is located and how the power is used. Therefore, the distributed wind market includes wind turbines and projects of many sizes.
The outlook for distributed wind in the U.S. remains mixed, with market drivers including new financing schemes and certification requirements, as well as new export markets for domestic manufacturers. Challenges continue to be the competition from solar photovoltaics, permitting and soft cost barriers, and the low cost of other sources of electricity.
Other report highlights include the following:
- New Mexico, Texas and California were the top states in 2014 in terms of adding distributed wind capacity. With two large projects totaling 34.8 MW installed in 2014, New Mexico accounted for nearly 55% of the total U.S. annual capacity. Minnesota, New York, Nevada and Iowa led the nation for the number of small wind turbines deployed in 2014. Currently, 16 states have more than 10 MW of cumulative distributed wind capacity.
- Exports remained an important source of revenue for U.S. manufacturers of small wind turbines. Seven U.S. manufacturers exported 11.2 MW in 2014 at a value of $60 million. Although this is down slightly from the 13.6 MW of exports reported for 10 manufacturers in 2013, it is up from the 8 MW reported by eight manufacturers in 2012.
- The top reported export markets in terms of capacity were Italy, the U.K. and South Korea.
To read the full report, click here.