U.S. wind industry sees big revival in 2014

After a 2013 lull in new project deployment due largely to a brief lapse in the production tax credit (PTC), 2014 looks like it’s going to be a big bounce back year, according to an update issued Jan. 30 by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

With the installation of 1,084 MW in 2013 the United States now has an installed wind capacity of 61,108 MW. The 2013 figures marked a dramatic decline from the boom year of 2012 when roughly 12,425 MW was brought online.

But judging by the number of new wind projects already under construction and under contract, 2014 is going to be a big year.

There are over 12,000 MW under construction, including 10,900 MW that started construction activity during the fourth quarter, AWEA said.

The start of 2013 for the wind industry was slowed by uncertainty over the tax credit, which was allowed to expire momentarily on Dec. 31, then extended the next day by Congress and signed back into law on Jan. 2 as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal.

Historically when the PTC has been allowed to expire, the U.S. industry has faced a 70% to 95% drop-off in installations; in 2013, that drop-off amounted to a 92% reduction in new wind generating capacity brought online. That dropped from the record 13,131 MW of new capacity installed in 2012, to just 1,084 MW in 2013, a pattern that could repeat unless Congress acts, AWEA said.

But the industry quickly rebounded, signing a record number of power purchase agreements and getting projects under construction in 4Q13. Of the 1,084 MW of new wind farms installed in 12 states plus Puerto Rico last year, 1,012 MW were completed in the fourth quarter.

Here are some highlights of the AWEA 4Q market report:

■At the end of 2013 there were more U.S. wind power (MW) under construction than ever in history: Over 12,000 MW of new generating capacity was under construction, with a record-breaking 10,900 MW starting construction activity during the fourth quarter. The wind projects under construction could power the equivalent of 3.5 million American homes, or all the households in Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas.

■Record numbers of long-term power contracts were signed in 2013. At least 60 PPAs for nearly 8,000 MW were signed by utilities and corporate purchasers, of which 5,200 MW have not yet started construction.

■Some of the states poised for major growth in wind energy in coming years include Texas, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, and Michigan.

■There are now over 5,600 MW of turbine orders placed, with major manufacturing facilities active in places such as Colorado, Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota.

■U.S. manufacturing production capacity has ramped up dramatically, and the largest turbine order in history of the U.S. wind industry was placed in the fourth quarter.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.