The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has reflected on the wind industry's accomplishments and shortcomings in 2011 and predicted five big trends the industry will see in 2012.
Here's what AWEA says the sector can expect for the coming year:
A boom phase of the notorious boom-bust cycle. Although Congress has yet to act on an extension to the PTC, which is set to expire at the end of 2012, under-construction numbers are up – 8,400 MW were counted at the end of the third quarter of 2011. Expect them to continue to surge as 2012 gets under way.
Increased wind energy development in the southeastern U.S. The wind power industry has been quietly establishing a presence in the Southeast for some time – particularly in the form of manufacturing plants, as at least 74 manufacturing facilities in the region serve the wind power industry. Also, utilities in Alabama and Louisiana recently signed contracts for wind power, and projects are under development in North Carolina and Florida.
Stable prices for wind power. In 2012, utilities will continue to embrace the price-locking benefit of wind power by signing long-term power contracts for the affordable energy source.
The industry's fate is highly dependent on U.S. policy. Congress ended the year without extending the PTC, but it can still act. If Congress extends it quickly in 2012, the industry will continue to add jobs and foster economic activity. If Congress fails to take action, however, and raises taxes on wind, it could kill tens of thousands of wind sector jobs.