The first quarter of 2013 was the wind industry's worst first quarter since 2006, with the industry installing only 384 MW over the period compared to 1,912 MW a year ago, according to data compiled from SNL Energy.
According to SNL, the weak quarter comes in the wake of a huge surge of installations in 2012, which saw 13,329 MW installed ahead of the scheduled expiration of the production tax credit (PTC). The fourth quarter of 2012 alone saw 8 GW of capacity brought online, more than twice the amount in any prior quarter. The fourth quarter of each year since 2000 has been the industry's strongest, particularly in years when the PTC was scheduled to expire.
That trend may continue, however SNL notes that fourth-quarter booms are likely to be reduced by latest version of the PTC passed by Congress early this year. The revised policy extends the PTC through 2013, but requires only that projects begin construction or meet a safe harbor clause by the deadline instead of starting commercial operations, putting less pressure on projects to all come online at the same time.
Given the safe harbor provision and time required to build a wind project, turbine manufacturers expect only limited installations this year followed by an increase in new capacity in 2014 as projects are able to begin operations.
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