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Optimism about the short and long-term US market


The WINDPOWER 2011 Conference and Exhibition took place from 22 to 25 May in Anaheim, California, USA. Although it felt less busy than in former years, the event was successful. With thousands of wind energy professionals walking the exhibition halls, learning in the education sessions, and networking at the many social events, this year's event was a perfect mix of business and pleasure.

{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}A stable policy to create a predictable business environment is key to the continued growth of American wind power, and the most pressing need is to extend the frustratingly short-term federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), and not wait until it expires in 2012. This was the message expressed by many people at this year’s show. During the large wind turbine manufacturers forum the panellists were optimistic about the short and long-term US market but unsure about the mid-term market. Generally it was agreed that in 2011 the total US installations would be higher than in 2010 and end up between 6,000 and 7,000MW, with 2012 being slightly better, but still less than the record year of 2009 with 10,000MW. There was considerable uncertainty about the installation total in 2013 due to the expiry of the tax incentives in 2012. In the past we have seen a drop from 70 to 90% when the PTC expired. A long-term policy, including a federal RES (Renewable Energy Standard), is necessary to ensure a continuing growth in the industry.

Although there were some questions about the long-term market, big companies from outside the wind industry are becoming active in it. Rick Needham, director of green business operations and strategy for Google, discussed the technology company’s commitment to renewable energy. Since 2007 the company has been working to be carbon-neutral through energy efficiency initiatives, the use of renewable energy for its operations, and offsetting the balance of its carbon emissions. Furthermore, Google is hoping to be not just a consumer of renewable energy. The company is making a renewable energy business play. It is working on a proposed multi-million dollar offshore transmission project, Atlantic Wind Connection, which will serve as a backbone for offshore wind projects off the East Coast USA. In addition, the company is investing in land-based wind projects, and directly purchases 215MW of wind power.

In the coming months activism and outreach aimed at educating members of Congress about wind power is needed with a view to getting stable policies implemented that will give businesses the time to both plan and grow the project development and industrial manufacturing base.

Next years’ WINDPOWER 2012 will take place from 3 to 6 June in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. If you want to do business in the USA, or to stay updated about the latest trends and market situation, this show is a must-attend event.

Enjoy reading,

Floris Siteur
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