There is about 3,300 MW of capacity currently under construction, compared to over 4,000 at the beginning of 2009.
While the industry worked diligently to accelerate shovel-ready projects in 2009 and installed over 10,000 MW, continued lack of long-term market signals, combined with low power demand and price, has allowed the pipeline for advanced projects to slow over the past 18 months. AWEA has called on Congress to put in place a strong national renewable electricity standard (RES) as part of comprehensive climate and energy legislation to provide the hard targets needed to stabilize the industry.
"Financing wind farm projects is an 18 month process and the struggles in 2009 to raise new capital, combined with lack of new demand from utilities, are now surfacing in the market and reflected in project installations, said Denise Bode, AWEA CEO. "Minimal new installations and current announcements for wind power project delays or downgrades in 2010 are the consequences of inaction to provide a serious market signal. With swift action today, wind farm project development can be nimble and ramp up quickly, creating new domestic manufacturing orders."
The U.S. wind energy industry is calling on Congress to enact a national RES to send the long-term signal the industry needs to invest and grow in a steady, sustained fashion, and to attract wind turbine manufacturing investment on a large scale. According to a recent national poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Bennett, Petts & Normington, a bipartisan team of pollsters, an RES is also politically popular among American voters with support seen across party lines with 65% of Republican voters, 69% of Independents and 92% of Democrats favoring the legislation.
“Wind works for America. That is why voters want Congress to pass a strong national RES" added Bode. "Americans understand that an RES will mean new manufacturing jobs, less dependence on imported energy, and more pure, clean, affordable energy for our country. Wind energy is readily available today to revitalize our economy and yet Congress, by not acting, is allowing this bright spot in our economy to dim. The American people agree that Congress must act. As evidenced by the bipartisan poll mentioned above, 67% of Americans believe Congress is focusing too little on increasing renewable energy sources such as wind.”
“Policy drives young energy industries as well as established ones, and depending on the policies put in place now we could be hiring or firing by the end of the year and in the years to come,” said Bode. “Stimulus funding successfully saved thousands of megawatts of shovel ready wind projects and over 40,000 jobs in 2009, but we are setting up a vacuum if we don’t drive stable demand with a national renewable electricity standard.”
The cycle of wind capacity installations over the past few years, illustrated by the figure below, has created a poor environment for long-term investment decisions, particularly in wind manufacturing. Dozens of manufacturing companies have already made commitments to build and upgrade U.S. facilities, despite the market’s booms and busts. These companies have created the foundation for renewing the American manufacturing sector and the U.S. could see explosive growth the instant there is a sign of market stability and U.S. commitment to long term policy.
State-Added in 1Q10
Illinois gained the most new capacity in the first quarter of 2010 with the addition of Iberdrola Renewables’ 300-MW Cayuga Ridge wind farm. The top three states are still Texas, Iowa and California. Oregon moved into the fourth place, just ahead of Washington, in fifth.