The U.S. wind industry built 5,115 MW of wind power last year, barely half of 2009's record pace. The industry enters this year with over 5,600 MW worth of projects currently under construction, according to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) Fourth Quarter Market Report for 2010.
In addition, because wind is now cost-competitive with natural gas for new electric generation, utilities are moving to lock in favorable rates.
‘Wind's costs have dropped over the past two years, with power purchase agreements being signed in the range of $0.05 to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour recently,’ says Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA's director of industry data and analysis. ‘With uncertainty around natural-gas and power prices as the economy recovers, wind's long-term price stability is even more valued. We expect that utilities will move to lock in more wind contracts, given the cost-competitive nature of wind in today's market.’
AWEA reports that 3,195 MW of wind-powered electric generating capacity came online in the fourth quarter of 2010. That performance was below the 4,113 MW installed in the same period in 2009, but a leap from the third quarter of 2010, when only 670 MW were installed. The U.S. finished the year with a total of 5,115 MW of new wind power.
Total U.S. wind capacity now stands at 40,180 MW, an increase in capacity of 15% over the start of 2010, according to AWEA. For the first time, U.S. capacity fell second to China's; China now has 41,800 MW in operation, an increase of 62% in capacity over a year ago, according to a Jan. 13 report from the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.
Buoyed by a one-year extension of the section 1603 investment tax credit for renewable energy in the final days of the 111th Congress, the U.S. wind industry entered the new year with over 5,600 MW of electric power currently under construction, according to AWEA. Further projects are expected to start up in time to meet the new construction deadline for the tax credit, now set to expire at the end of this year.Â
SOURCE: American Wind Energy Association