For the fourth consecutive year, the U.S. was home to the fastest-growing wind power market in the world in 2008, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Specifically, U.S. wind power capacity additions increased by 60 percent in 2008, representing a $16 billion investment in new wind projects. "At this pace, wind is on a path to becoming a significant contributor to the U.S. power mix," notes report author Ryan Wiser, of Berkeley Lab. Wind projects accounted for 42% of all new electric generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2008, and wind now delivers nearly 2% of the nation's electricity supply.
The 2008 edition of the "Wind Technologies Market Report" provides a comprehensive overview of developments in the rapidly evolving U.S. wind power market. The need for such a report has become apparent in the past few years, as the wind power industry has entered an era of unprecedented growth, both globally and in the United States. At the same time, the last year has been one of upheaval, with the global financial crisis impacting near-term growth prospects for the wind industry, and with federal policy changes enacted to push the industry towards continued aggressive expansion.
"With the market evolving at such a rapid pace, keeping up with trends in the marketplace has become increasingly difficult," notes report co-author Mark Bolinger. "Yet, the need for timely, objective information on the industry and its progress has never been greater…this report seeks to fill that need."
Drawing from a variety of sources, this report analyzes trends in wind power capacity growth, turbine size, turbine prices, installed project costs, project performance, wind power prices, and how wind prices compare to the price of conventional generation. It also describes developer consolidation trends, current ownership and financing structures, and trends among major wind power purchasers. Finally, the report examines other factors impacting the domestic wind power market, including grid integration, transmission issues, and policy drivers.
The report concludes with a preview of possible near- to medium-term market developments.
Some of the key findings from the just-released 2008 edition include:
• Wind project performance has improved over time, but has leveled off in recent years. The longer-term improvement in project performance has been driven in part by taller towers and larger rotors, enhanced project siting, and technological advancements.
Berkeley Lab's contributions to this report were funded by the Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research for DOE's Office of Science and is managed by the University of California. Visit our website at http://www.lbl.gov.
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