The US wind energy sector is continuing to recover from the credit crunch with turbine installations on the rise in 2011, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), but future growth could be undermined by an uncertain federal policy environment.
The wind industry installed 2.2GW of generating capacity in the US during the first half of 2011, up 72% from the 1.3GW installed during the same time in 2010, according to AWEA. In the second quarter of 2011, 1GW of capacity was installed, an increase of 46% from the 709MW in the second quarter of last year.
An additional 7.4GW of capacity was under construction as of 1 July, more than at any time since the third quarter of 2008, according to AWEA, which has predicted that 2011 installations will surpass the 5.1GW built in 2010.
But wind project activity and orders for 2013 and beyond are scant because the production tax credit for wind is scheduled to expire at the end of 2012 and a failure to extend the credit could lead to layoffs and bankruptcies, AWEA said.
“Clearly Congress cannot take for granted all the wind energy manufacturing and construction jobs that have been a bright spot through the recession,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. But, “wind tax credits enjoy broad bipartisan support and, since they’re not spending programmes, current projects are safe and prospects for extension of the production tax credit beyond 2012 are good."
California installed the most capacity in the second quarter of 2011 with 420MW, but Texas is still the leader by far in overall wind power generation with 10.1GW, accounting for about 24% of wind power in the US.
Iowa, which generated 20% of its electricity from wind in January to April 2011, is second in overall capacity with 3.7GW, according to AWEA. California ranks third among US states with 3.6GW of installed capacity.
By. Gloria Gonzalez