While the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the recession had a strong impact on the wind energy industry in terms of new installations, the sector has continued to mature. Wind power now accounts for the majority of the world’s installed capacity of non-hydropower renewable energy generation, and most people in the energy industry have come to appreciate it as a low-cost, clean energy technology that is key to not only reducing carbon emissions, but also driving economic growth in the 21st century.
The North American wind energy industry lags in key areas compared to Europe and Asia, but many key industry players are optimistic about the North American market as turbine costs continue to drop dramatically. According to a new report from Pike Research, total installed wind capacity in North America will more than double over the next six years, increasing from approximately 53,000 megawatts in 2011 to almost 126,000 megawatts by 2017.
“This will be another difficult year for wind power in North America, but we do see signs of recovery,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus. “Larger, more efficient turbines are generating greater amounts of wind power at lower costs, and both the U.S. and Canadian governments have shown strong commitment to the wind industry during this challenging economic time.”
Pike Research forecasts that approximately $820 billion will be invested globally in onshore and offshore wind turbines between 2011 and 2017. North America’s share of this total is expected to be $145 billion. The United States produces more electricity from wind energy than any other country – enough to power 10 million homes – but this still represents only 2.3% of total power generation in the United States.
By comparison, Denmark now derives 20% of its electricity from wind power, and several other Western European countries are above 10%. One of the key factors for renewed growth in the wind power industry is the development of offshore resources. Lacking a coordinated policy framework that would provide government support and investment certainty for transmission, developers and manufacturers in the United States and Canada are looking for ways to bring even larger economies of scale to the wind power market. Large, untapped offshore wind resources offer a primary path forward.
Pike Research’s report, “Wind Energy Outlook for North America”, provides an in-depth analysis of North American opportunities in the onshore and offshore wind power markets, as well as an examination of key challenges facing the industry. It examines technology innovations that will influence the future direction of the market, and also features detailed profiles of key industry players, including a competitive regional analysis of the major wind energy markets across their respective technology, policy, and capital environments. Market forecasts extend through 2017 and include projections for installed capacity, installation costs, and offshore production revenue, all segmented by onshore, offshore, region, and country. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.