The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently released its annual Global Market Study [PDF] of the small wind market, and I thought I'd share this information considering the intersect of green building and small wind. According to the study, the U.S. market for small wind turbines — those with a capacity of 100 kW of less — added 20.3 MW of new capacity on $82.4 million in sales in 2009.
This new growth comes from sales of 9,800 new units, pushing national capacity beyond the 100 MW mark. In fact, AWEA estimates that half of all small wind capacity was installed in the last three years.
For comparison, in 2008, the U.S. market for small wind turbines added a total of 17.3 MW in new capacity. So, even in tough economic times, the industry recognized more than 15% year over year growth.
Additionally, according to the Global Market Study, 95% of all systems sold in the U.S. were made by U.S. manufacturers, while two-thirds of all small wind systems sold nationally were made by U.S. manufacturers.
The study found that 187 units were installed in urban and rooftop settings (e.g., Twelve West and Adobe) with a total capacity of 400 kW — less than 2% of the U.S. small wind market. Due to turbulent and unpredictable winds near buildings and structures, these turbines have performance problems that the industry is still trying to solve.
The primary driver of growth was perhaps the expanded investment tax credit. With the 30% ITC, the industry was able to focus on other issues, such as net metering, permitting, interconnection regulation, and installer and equipment certifications.
Photo credit: Southwest Windpower.
Article tags: alternative energy, small wind