On the back of three years of consistent growth, the U.S. wind market is poised for a record-breaking surge with cumulative installed wind capacity to surpass 150 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, according to a recent market study from Emerging Energy Research (EER), a research and advisory firm analyzing clean and renewable energy markets on a global basis.
With 5,329 MW of new wind capacity installed in 2007, the U.S. wind power market was responsible for installing more than 27% of newly added global wind capacity this past year, securing the U.S.' position as the largest wind growth market by annual installations for the third straight year. 2008 is poised to set another record for annual installations in the U.S., with over 8 GW of wind projects currently under construction scheduled for operation by year's end, according to EER.
"Wind is becoming increasingly competitive with conventional fossil fuel power generation options such as natural gas and coal. Given the substantial volatility of fossil fuel capital and operating costs in the past several years, wind is now one of the least-cost power generation options available to U.S .utilities seeking new capacity," says EER Research Director Joshua Magee.
More than half of U.S. states have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS') to date, creating demand for up to 295 terawatt-hours (TWh) of renewable energy supply by 2020. In addition, the U.S. federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) remains crucial to the wind project revenue stream, with looming uncertainty regarding the incentive's current expiration at the end of 2008.
Texas continues to serve as the hub of U.S. wind project development activity, with over 45 GW of wind projects under development in the state. However, future growth in top U.S. wind regions such as the Southwest, Midwest, West and Pacific Northwest hinges on the completion of numerous proposed transmission projects, according to EER. "Major transmission expansion investments on both the intra- and inter-state levels will be crucial to sustaining long-term build-out of the U.S. market," according to Magee.