Wind Power in the US Expected to Peak in 2012
The U.S. Department of Energy's "2011 Wind Technologies Market Report" finds that in 2011, the United States was still one of the fastest-growing markets for wind power. Around 6.8 gigwatts (GW) of new wind power capabilities were established in 2011, up from 5.2 GW in 2010. 2011 levels, however, were still beneath the 10 GW built in 2009. With the concerns of uncertain federal policies on the way, 2012 is expected to have the wind power market reach its peak, according to the research.
Put together by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the "2011 Wind Technologies Market Report" listed some other important points:
Today, wind power accounts for over 10% of the total electricity production in six states, two of which have over 20%. Combined, these statistics comprise over 3% of the nation's entire supply of electricity. In 2011, wind power made up 32% of all the new additions to U.S. electricity capacity.
In 2011, wind turbine manufacturers and suppliers still kept their productions domestic. Therefore, a large number of wind power projects' equipment is from the U.S. In 2005-2006, approximately 35% of the equipment was domestic while in 2011 it rose to 67%. Yet, according to Ryan Wiser, a Staff Scientist at Berkeley Lab and co-author of the report, "behind these positive headline numbers, the domestic wind industry supply chain is currently facing severe pressure, due to uncertain prospects after 2012." Profits have lowered, and there is a growing concern that manufacturing is producing over capacity, which could lead to major layoffs should turbine demand remain as is or further decline.
Increased turbine scaling has created a larger average for capacity factors. Since 1998-99, the average nameplate capacity of wind turbines installed in the U.S. has gone up by 174% (to 1.97 MW in 2011), the average turbine hub height has increased by 45% (to 81 meters), and the average rotor diameter has grown by 86% (to 89 meters). In some areas, however, the increase has been reduced by significant cuts in output of wind energy and wind developers building out lower wind speed sites.
Wind turbines at alternative energy wind farm via Shutterstock.
Read more at The Green Economy.