AWEA Small Wind Turbine Market Up 15% in 2009

The U.S. market for small wind energy systems is prospering, expanding 15% in 2009 and accounting for about half of the units sold in the entire world, the American Wind Energy Association said, highlighting findings from its annual Small Wind Turbine market study.

Small wind turbines systems are defined as those with rated capacities of 100 kilowatts (kW) or less, and are used primarily to power individual homes, farms, and small businesses.

“Americans and people around the globe want to take control of their energy future, and investing in a small wind turbine to generate your own electricity is one of the most rewarding ways to do so,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Wind power works for people and for our planet in many different ways.”

“Federal and state incentives now make it much more affordable to invest in a small wind turbine, and the market expanded in 2009 thanks largely to those incentives, optimistic investors, and popular demand,” said AWEA Manager of Small Wind Systems and Legislative Affairs Ron Stimmel, author of the report.

“We’ve also seen domestic manufacturing investment grow, with nine small wind turbine production facilities opened or expanded in the U.S in 2009. The U.S. small wind turbine market is by far the world’s largest, both in terms of installations and of manufacturing.”

Among key findings of the study:

* The U.S. small wind turbine market grew 15% in 2009, with 9,800 units sold and 20.3 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity;

* An estimated 100,000 small wind turbines are now installed in the U.S., bringing total small wind generating capacity to the 100-MW milestone;

* The U.S. market is the world’s largest — about half of all units and capacity added worldwide in 2009;

* The U.S. is the world’s leading manufacturer of small wind turbines: about two-thirds of all small wind systems sold in the world last year were made by U.S. manufacturers.

* The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) expanded the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for small wind turbines in 2009, allowing consumers to take 30% of the total cost of a small wind system as a tax credit. The ITC was perhaps the most important factor in last year’s small wind turbine market growth.

* In 2009—during the height of the economic recession–$80 million of private equity was invested into small wind turbine manufacturing companies, boosting to over $250 million the total equity invested over the past five years. This investment helped manufacturers increase production, lower costs, meet sustained demand, and even acquire competitors.