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Will the market be on the way up again?

2010 was a relatively good year for the wind industry, although there are differences between continents/countries. The numbers posted by the US wind industry in the third quarter of 2010 made for its slowest quarter since 2007. Once the year's final numbers are tallied, they are expected to show that China installed approximately three times as much wind-powered electricity as the USA in 2010, and Europe twice as much, as US installations fell to just over half of 2009. Factors in the US decline included an absence of long-term US energy policies (such as a Renewable Electricity Standard), resulting in an unstable business environment, and utilities being less eager to enter wind energy power purchase agreements. Good news from the USA is that Congress passed a major tax-cut deal that included a one-year extension of the incentive program for renewable energy projects. The Bill, which otherwise would have expired at the end of the year 2010, was signed by Barack Obama on 17 December 2010. This means many projects that were hanging in the balance will now be approved by integrators, investors and companies. The Treasury program 1603, which covers up to 30% of the cost of alternative energy projects, has supported more than 100,000 jobs and US$ 18 billion in investment for thousands of installations. The year 2010 saw a growth in solar and wind projects because of 1603. During a down economy 1603 was instrumental in bringing many new jobs to the US economy.

{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}In the coming months the major turbine manufacturers will announce their results for 2010. Some companies have already released statements with revised forecasts for the year 2010 due to the weaker markets, especially those caused by lack of financing and resulting postponed projects. On the other hand, many manufacturers have announced they are to set up new facilities to build turbines and components. For instance from 2011 on, REpower is planning to manufacture turbines in Asia. The wind turbines manufactured there are planned to be supplied to Australia, New Zealand and the USA. All in all I believe the wind industry so far has conquered the crisis very well and I see a bright future for the industry.

Technology-wise a lot is going on. The offshore market is becoming more mature especially in Europe. But also in other parts of the world offshore farms are on the agenda. So far most offshore wind farms have been installed near the shore in shallow water. If Europe wants to meet its 20% binding target for renewable energy by 2020, it must increase its use of offshore wind, and therefore possibly also wind farms installed in deep water. For several years the industry has examined the possibility of designing a floating structure for wind turbines so that wind farms can be installed in deeper water and we have published several articles about these floating structures. In this issue we publish a review of the status and risks of floating wind turbine technology written by Charles Briggs from SgurrEnergy.

We will keep you updated on these and other new developments, but these types of project promise another good year with lots of great articles to present to you in 2011.

Enjoy reading!

Floris Siteur{/access}