Small Wind Market Surges 78%, U.S. Manufacturers Making Money!


The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) just released a new report, the AWEA Small Wind Turbine Global Market Study, detailing a sizable advance in the small wind turbine market in the United States.  Small wind turbines, you may know, are those with a capacity of 100 kW or less.  And the U.S. market for this niche grew 78% in 2008, with a total of 17.3 (MW) of new installed capacity.  The report indicates that the growth is due, in large part, to private equity investment in the sector, as well as economies of scale, rising electricity prices, and heightened public interest. 

Of course, there's a federal investment tax credit (ITC) available to purchasers of small wind turbines (under 100 kW) for home, farm, or business use.  It's 30% of the total installed cost of the system, and will propel this segment further over the next eight years. 

Interestingly, U.S. manufacturers sold about half of all small wind turbines installed worldwide, or ~$77 million of the $155 million global total.  Not bad.  I studied the Global Market Study, and compiled a list of eight manufacturers that you should look into, especially if you want to buy a U.S.-manufactured small wind turbine any time soon. 

Eight Manufacturers to Watch:

(1)  Southwest Windpower – maker of the Skystream 3.7, Air Breeze, and Whisper series. 


(2)  Bergey WindPower – maker of the XL.1, 1500, and Excel. 


(3)  Wind Turbine Industries Corp. – maker of the Jacobs Wind Systems.


(4)  AeroVironment – maker of the AVX1000 Architectural Wind turbines.


(5)  Abundant Renewable Energy – maker of the ARE110 and ARE442 turbines.


(6)  Earth Turbines – maker of the Earth Turbine wind system. 


(7)  Mariah Power – maker of the Windspire vertical axis wind turbine.


(8)  Aerotecture International Inc. – maker of the 520H, 610V, 610V1, and 610V2 turbines.


[PDF] Small Wind Global Market Study by AWEA.

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  • Anonymous

    great round up Preston – thanks

  • Anonymous just another one to add to the already solid list of companies to watch out for when discussing wind energy.

  • nathan

    I like that we are beginning see more of these things incorporated into the aesthetic of new architectural designs.

  • c-dub

    A recent year-long test in the Dutch province of Zeeland determined that small wind turbines rarely make sense. Efficiency increases dramatically with size and height – large, commercial turbines produce tremendous amounts of electricity – but even the relatively large Skystream 3.7 listed above, with a diameter over 12’, produced only about 2,219 kWh during the test. One would need five Skystreams, then, to power the average American home, at a cost of roughly US$75,000.

    • Anonymous

      i think it’s more about the idea then the final results at this stage. Make it more mainstream and make it financially viable and you’ll have people looking into bigger/better/more efficient systems. A lot of the new smaller wind turbines that haven’t gone through the rigorous testing (like the one you give as an example) are already showing much higher efficiency rates.

      again, it’s more about the idea, and new progress… we’ll get there sooner or later. but we can’t go around bashing articles like this saying “it’s not worth it”.

      • c-dub

        Thanks for the reply, Zero. I think there’s great value in supporting nascent technologies, but the issue with small wind turbines isn’t the technology: it’s the wind. It simply doesn’t blow quickly and steadily enough at the heights for which these small turbines are designed. If you double the size of a wind turbine, you increase output by a factor of four; if you double the wind speed, you increase output by a factor of eight. Since wind speed and reliability generally increase the higher you go, it makes more sense to consolidate the resources that would be used for many small turbines to make a few large ones — no matter the state of the technology.

        To give an example: taken together, all of the small turbines in the Zeeland test I mentioned produced 7,820 kWh over the course of the year, while a nearby 18-meter turbine produced 143,000 kWh. The cost of the larger turbine was 17% more than the total cost of the 12 smaller ones, but that additional cost bought an 1,800% increase in output. And the state of technology used in the larger turbine isn’t appreciably different; it’s simply larger and taller.

        In a sense, small wind turbines are actually detrimental: according to the Carbon Trust, the “energy payback” for small wind turbines is 20 years or more. In other words, it would take a small turbine 20 years to harvest as much energy as was consumed by its manufacture – and 20 years is likely longer than its lifespan. On the other hand, the energy payback for large wind turbines is generally less than one year, and often as short as two to three months.

        Installing a small wind turbine is a bit like putting solar panels on the shady side of your house: no matter how efficient those solar panels may be, they’re still in the wrong place.

        • PlanetThoughts

          Thanks C-Dub for some good information, making it more real.

          Ideally a community can work as one to make the larger turbines. I wonder how the noise really is these days, and the effect on birds and bats. If these are not major problems, then community-scaled wind turbines are a no-brainer (along with larger-scale wind farms).

        • HempForPresident

          Great points, here, c-dub! The bigger the better with green technologies, and if we made massive solar thermal plants, that would be the way to go. Unfortunately we’d need massive government subsidies and carbon taxes to pay for the subsidies and to make CO2 emitting technologies prohibitively expensive.

          Let’s get active and elect some true progressives! If you’re a progressive, RUN FOR OFFICE!

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  • http://www.Greenovation.TV/ Matthew Grocoff

    Looking forward to seeing the technology advance for homes. There’s 130 million homes out there – using 22% of the nation’s energy. A couple kw system combined with solar and efficiency upgrades could make many homes zero carbon.

  • Anonymous has a large index of more than 350 small wind turbines from over 140 companies

  • Anonymous

    Great report on U.S. wind power!

    Worldwide, commercial use of wind power is increasing with Denmark, Spain, and Portugal receiving 20 percent of its electricity from the wind. And while the United States only has about 2 percent of energy production coming from wind power, US citizens are doing their share by beginning to embrace wind power for residential areas.

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced last month that for the 4th year in a row, the U.S.A. has led the world in wind energy. U.S. wind power wind turbine capacity addition increased by 60% in 2008, which calculates to $16 billion invested into wind energy projects. Out of all the new electric generating capacity added in the U.S. last year, 42% was wind and wind now delivers almost 2% of the nations power supply.

    The future is bright and there are tons of new opportunities out there. Wind power is really starting to take hold in Oregon. In 1998 we had one wind power project in Helix which built 38 wind power units for a total of 25.08 MegaWatts. In 2009 Oregon has 3 wind power projects building 141 wind power units which will produce 303.3MW, all in Sherman County! Sherman County in eastern Oregon is turning out to be the wind power capital in this state. They have a total of 444 wind power units producing 827.8MW–and they are still building!

    Since 1998 Oregon now has an:
    Existing wind power capacity of 1363.29MW
    Wind power capacity under construction: 400.45MW
    and Oregon is ranked 6th in the U.S. for wind power.

    With the increase in oil and natural gas prices hitting the United States hard in this down economy, finding renewable sources of energy that can be found within our own borders has become extremely important. Only by embracing these natural, clean sources of energy, such as wind power, can we truly minimize our impact on the environment and create a sustainable source of reliable power that we can harvest right within our own borders – making us the self-sufficient entity we desperately need to become.

    For more information:

  • wind turbine

    There were also some other countries small wind turbine manfuacturers have good perforamance in US market, like proven, fortis, Aeolos etc..

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