TREND: Wind Power Becalmed?

U.S. wind power appears becalmed, partially stymied by transmission constraints, and also by financing difficulties in the current recession. Read the details at the links below.

The wind industry lobby, the America Wind Energy Association, reports a potential slowdown, driven by transmission limits.

The Energy Daily reported that the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has pulled out of a major, 600-MW wind project due to financing costs and the added costs of transmission.

Following the SMUD decision, the Transmission Agency of Northern California said it would pull out of the project that Sacramento rejected, the Record Searchlight of Redding, Calif., reported.

Oil and gas billionaire T. Boone Pickens announced plans to shelve his 4-GW Texas wind project due to the cost of financing the project and, in particular, the needed transmission investment to bring the power from West Texas to where it is needed east of the wind sites, The Washington Post reported.

Hanging its story on the Pickens retreat, the  Los Angeles Times reported on a general downturn in wind project development, a result of capital-access problems and the inability of developers to bring power from wind-heavy sites to markets hundred or thousands of miles away. Lower natural gas prices also contribute to wind’s problems.

The Washington Post reported that Asian nations—specifically China and India—could pass the U.S. in developing wind and solar generation and “could outpace the programs in Obama’s economic stimulus package or in the House climate bill.”