AWEA: Wind Rebounds In Q2, But Continued Growth Depends On Policy

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U.S. wind energy continued to rebound in the second quarter of this year, with 2,151 MW of capacity installed in the first half of the year versus 1,250 MW during the same time in 2010, according to the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) U.S. Wind Industry Second Quarter Market Report 2011.

However, analysts at AWEA cautioned that without stable policy – such as an extension of the production tax credit (PTC), which is set to expire in 2012 – the industry's recovery will stall.

Project activity and orders for 2013 and beyond are scant because of the lack of a predictable business environment, causing layoffs and bankruptcies in U.S. manufacturing plants and the supply chain, according to AWEA.

The PTC and market stability over the past five years have allowed domestic content in the U.S. industry to reach a record high of 60% through 2010, according to a recent U.S. Department of Energy report.

‘Clearly, Congress cannot take for granted all the wind energy manufacturing and construction jobs that have been a bright spot through the recession,’ says Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA, adding that wind tax credits enjoy broad bipartisan support and prospects for extension of the PTC beyond 2012 are good.

The wind sector averaged 3.2% of the nation's electricity over the strong wind months between January and April, according to the Energy Information Administration's Electric Power Monthly report. For now, wind energy remains ahead of schedule to generate 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030, the goal identified by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the George W. Bush administration.

An additional 7,354 MW of new capacity was under construction as of July 1 – more than at any time since the third quarter of 2008, according to AWEA. Since 2007, wind energy has installed 35% of new electrical generating capacity in the U.S. – more than twice coal and nuclear combined.

Other highlights of the report include the following:

– California installed the most wind, with 420 MW. Oregon installed 201 MW, Illinois installed 150 MW and Utah installed 102 MW.

– Maryland added its second utility-scale project, a 50 MW project, taking its wind energy capacity up 71%.

– Over 2,500 MW of new construction was started during the second quarter – almost three times more new construction than began during the first quarter of the year.

– Iowa wind has reached the milestone of generating 20% of the state's electricity from January to April.

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