Although the North American wind energy industry lags in key areas compared to Europe and Asia, total installed wind capacity in North America will more than double over the next six years, increasing from approximately 53 GW this year to almost 126 MW by 2017, according to a new report from Pike Research.
The firm forecasts that approximately $820 billion will be invested globally in onshore and offshore wind turbines between 2011 and 2017. North America's share of this total is expected to be $145 billion. The U.S. produces more electricity from wind energy than any other country – enough to power 10 million homes – but this still represents only 2.3% of total power generation in the country.
One of the key factors for renewed growth in the wind power industry is the development of offshore resources. Lacking a coordinated policy framework that would provide government support and investment certainty for transmission, developers and manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada are looking for ways to bring even larger economies of scale to the wind power market. Large, untapped offshore wind resources offer a primary path forward, the firm says.
"This will be another difficult year for wind power in North America, but we do see signs of recovery," says Pike Research senior analyst Peter Asmus. "Larger, more efficient turbines are generating greater amounts of wind power at lower costs, and both the U.S. and Canadian governments have shown strong commitment to the wind industry during this challenging economic time."