U.S. Wind Energy Projects using a Growing Percentage of Domestically Manufactured Equipment

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its "2009 Wind Technologies Market Report." This report, authored primarily by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, provides a comprehensive overview of trends in the rapidly-evolving U.S. wind power market.

For the first time, this year’s Wind Technologies Market Report estimates the amount of wind turbines and component imports from other countries. The study finds that a growing percentage of wind turbines equipment is being sourced domestically, as both domestic and foreign companies seek to minimize transportation costs and currency risks by establishing local manufacturing capabilities. When presented as a fraction of total wind turbine equipment-related costs, the overall U.S. content is found to have increased from about 50% in 2008 to roughly 60% in 2009.

According to the report, 2009 was another record-breaking year for U.S. wind farm additions. The 10 gigawatts of capacity additions represent a $21 billion investment in new wind power projects, and enough capacity to power the equivalent of 2.4 million homes. Wind projects accounted for 39% of all new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2009, and wind energy is now able to deliver 2.5% of the nation’s electricity supply.

This report analyzes trends in wind power capacity, industry, manufacturing, turbines, installed project costs, project performance, and how wind power prices compare to conventional generation. It also describes trends among wind power developers, project owners, and power purchasers, and discusses financing issues.

Other key findings of the report include the following:

* Wind power capacity growth is distributed across much of the nation, with new wind farms constructed in 28 states in 2009
* Market growth is spurring manufacturing investments in the United States; seven of the ten wind turbine manufacturers with the largest share of the U.S. market in 2009 have manufacturing facilities in the United States, and two of the remaining three have announced plans to open U.S. facilities in the future
* Rising wind power prices and sharply lower wholesale electricity prices make the near-term economics of wind energy more challenging
* Financial constraints, electricity prices, and energy demand suggest that 2010 will be a slower year for wind power
* The market is likely to be resurgent in 2011 and 2012, as programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 mature and financing constraints continue to ease.