Interest in Distributed Energy Generation is Driving Growth in Small Wind Energy

Small-scale wind power has a long history of successful development in both Western Europe and the United States.During the 18th and 19th century, it is estimated that some 100,000 windmills were scattered throughout Europe.

After wind power was largely displaced by steam engines and other sources of mechanical power in Europe, America became fertile soil for the next generation of wind power technology, with farmers and rural communities relying upon the technology.

More recently, interest in wind power and other forms of renewable distributed energy generation has revived; large corporate investment has led to the development of larger wind turbines and utility-scale wind farms, but consumer demand is driving the growth of the small wind power market as well.Today, according to a recent report from Pike Research, increased government incentives, the desire for customer and community ownership of power generation, and the recognition that investment in small wind turbines can be an enduring source of economic development for the rural locales in which they are typically deployed are driving accelerating growth for the small wind power market.

The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that global revenues for small wind systems will more than double between 2010 and 2015, rising from $255 million to $634 million during that period.

“Despite the rapid drop in solar photovoltaics (PV) prices over the last three years, small wind turbines are still a more cost-effective source for distributed renewable energy in many parts of the world,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus.“Communities are recognizing the benefits of renewable distributed generation for local economies, particularly in rural areas or underdeveloped regions with abundant local resources.Developing those resources benefits local economies by keeping the dollars spent on energy in the community and creating jobs and possible export revenue.”

One increasingly popular business model in the wind industry is known as “community wind,” which refers to wind generation assets that are owned by a group of local people – usually farmers and business people, and sometimes the municipality – who create a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) that then enters into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the local utility.Common in parts of Europe such as Denmark and Germany, community wind is emerging in rural, windy areas of the United States as a vehicle for economic development, especially in Minnesota and Iowa.

Pike Research’s report, “Small Wind Power”, examines the global market for small wind power systems including the equipment, components, and installation and service models to enable distributed energy generation from small wind turbines.The report provides a comprehensive examination of industry growth drivers, technology issues, regulatory frameworks, financing structures, and the competitive landscape.Global market forecasts, segmented by world region, extend through 2015. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.