Wind Energy in 2010 has ground to a halt in the US after a record 10,000 MW were installed in 2009.The ARRA grants in 2009 which gave a 30% cash grant for wind farm development plus the 2008 pushed out orders led to a path breaking 2009 for Wind Energy in the US .Almost 30% of the total installed capacity in the US was constructed in 2009 alone.Wind Energy accounts for roughly 39 GW of electricity capacity in the US or roughly 4% . The major reason for the slowdown has been Gas prices which were ruling at $8/BTU at the peak have crashed down to $4.2/BTU making Gas based Power much cheaper .Wind Energy is one of the cheapest forms of Renewable Energy at around 8-10c/KwH.However , it has been tough for Wind Farm developers to sign Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with utilities given that electricity demand has contracted in the US . Wind Energy has hit a perfect Storm driven by a confluence of negative factors.Total Wind Energy Capacity declined by a whopping 80% y/y in first quarter of 2010 compared to the first quarter of 2009.The factors contributing to this decline are
- Decline in Electricity Demand in the US for the first time in 50 years due the Economic Crisis
- 25% Decline in Gas Prices making Gas based power generation cheaper in comparison to Wind power
- Lack of a National Renewable Energy Standard (RES) which mandates a certain percentage of electricity generation done through Cleaner Energy at the federal level
US losing the Clean Energy Race to China
US lags far behind in Wind Energy equipment production with only General Electric(GE) being the only US manufacture in the top 10 rankings.A slowdown in the home market will make it even tougher for US companies to compete with Chinese suppliers which are looking to expand outside.The Government has been tardy about passing a Climate Bill which would give a boost to Renewable Energy.China on the other hand is looking to dominate Wind Energy just like it is currently dominating Solar Energy.
US Turbine Producers face a Bleak 2010
The US Wind Energy Turbine Manufacturers have been pushing for a RES at the federal level as wind farms require long term financing which in turn requires policy stability.With 30% Cash Grants expiring this year and no Federal Push on the Energy and Climate issues , its tough for Wind Farm developers to get financing.Suzlon, Gamesa, Vestas and GE which have large US factories will have to run theirFactories at low utilization levels waiting for a friendly Green policy.