Intelligent Energy

Cheaper turbines to revive North American wind industry

Posting in Energy

The wind industry in North America has grappled with numerous economic headwinds - ahem - in recent years. Pike Research forecasts a brighter future despite policy uncertainty.

North America accounts for more than 22 percent of the world's total installed wind power capacity, a notable feat considering the economic headwinds the industry has faced in recent years. And while uncertainty still abounds, a new report from Pike Research says cheaper, more efficient turbines and falling costs will rejuvenate the industry. The result: installations will more than double its current capacity to reach 125 gigawatts by 2017.

That being said, Pike Research analyst Dexter Gauntlett struck a cautiously optimistic tone and noted that uncertainty surrounding the extension of the production tax credit in the United States continues to prevent the country from reaching its full potential.

Overall, the research firm forecast approximately $145 billion will be invested in onshore and offshore wind energy installations between 2011 and 2017. Virtually all of the wind capacity added in North America in the next five years -- some 97 percent -- will be onshore installations, the firm said in a release today. Meaning, offshore wind industry in the region will continue to lag far behind its European counterparts.

Consolidation has been one factor that has helped power the wind industry, Pike Research said. There have been a number of high-level mergers and acquisitions in the past three years. And while the majority have been pure technology plants, the increasing trend is for manufacturers to acquire wind farm development companies as a strategy to ensure a market for their products. For example, power and engineering giant Siemens, which also makes turbines, has said it will finance the offshore Cape Wind project.

Photo: Flickr user by the russians are here, CC 2.0

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure