Only 700 MW of wind power were added in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2010—a drop of 57% and 71% when compared to second quarter numbers from 2008 and 2009, respectively, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported last week.
U.S. wind capacity is now more than 36,300 MW. The industry group said that the U.S. has installed more coal and natural gas power plants than wind and other clean renewable energy sources. During the previous two years, wind roughly matched new natural gas capacity, and together the two sources accounted for about 90% of all new annual generating capacity installed over the past five years, AWEA claims.
The industry group and a broad coalition of renewable energy, labor, utility, and environmental organizations issued an urgent appeal to Congress to put in place a national renewable electricity standard (RES).
“The boom-and-bust cycle that has developed due to short-term incentives is not conducive to business investment and increased employment,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Without strong, supportive policy like an RES to spur demand, investment, and jobs, manufacturing facilities will go idle and lay off workers if Congress doesn’t act now—before time runs out this session.” Bode also said that the U.S. is losing the clean energy race to Europe and China, citing those regions’ long-term renewable energy targets as drivers for their success.
AWEA’s second quarter report projected that even with 5,500 MW of new wind under construction and a more active second half of the year in store, installations in 2010 would likely be 25% to 45% below 2009 installations, depending on policy developments. Beyond 2010, there is a “dramatic drop in the project development pipeline” after the 5,500 MW under construction, the group says. “There is no demand beyond the present ‘coasting momentum.’”
Texas installed the most new wind power—202 MW—in the second quarter with the Penescal II project for Iberdrola Renewables, which provides power for San Antonio and the South Texas Electric Cooperative. Delaware added its first utility-scale project in the second quarter, a one-turbine project built by the University of Delaware. This brings the number of states with utility-scale installations to 37. “However, near-term activity is now concentrated in the Midwest, Northwest, and Intermountain regions,” said AWEA.
Wind turbine orders, which saw a slight uptick in the second quarter of this year, will slow and stay below what AWEA considers enough to drive more manufacturing. It also said that new wind turbine manufacturing facility openings dropped from 2008 and 2009 levels, with only two new manufacturing facilities coming online in the first half of 2010, compared to seven in 2008 and five in 2009.