[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 14-Aug-2012
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Contact: Allan Chen
a_chen@lbl.gov
510-486-4210
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

New study finds the US wind power market riding a wave that is likely to crest in 2012

The expiration of key federal incentives could bring that wave crashing down in 2013, despite a significant decline in the cost of wind energy

Facing looming policy uncertainty beyond 2012, the U.S. remained one of the fastest-growing wind power markets in the world in 2011—second only to China—according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Roughly 6.8 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity were connected to the U.S. grid in 2011—more than the 5.2 GW built in 2010, but below the 10 GW added in 2009. Driven by the threat of expiring federal incentives, new wind power installations are widely expected to be substantially higher in 2012 than in 2011, and perhaps even in excess of 2009's record build.

Other key findings from the U.S. Department of Energy's "2011 Wind Technologies Market Report" include:

"Wind PPA prices—particularly in the central U.S.—are now approaching previous lows set back in 2003," notes Berkeley Lab Research Scientist and report co-author Mark Bolinger. "But even with today's much lower wind energy prices, wind power still struggles to compete with depressed natural gas and wholesale power prices in many parts of the country."

At the same time, the possible expiration of these incentives at the end of 2012, in concert with continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand growth, and existing state policies that are not sufficient to support continued capacity additions at the levels witnessed in recent years, threatens to dramatically slow new builds in 2013 and beyond, despite recent improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technology.

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Berkeley Lab's contributions to this report were funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 12 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

Additional Information: The full report ("2011 Wind Technologies Market Report"), a presentation slide deck that summarizes the report, and an Excel workbook that contains much of the data presented in the report, can all be downloaded from: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/re-pubs.html

The Department of Energy's press release on this study is available at: http://energy.gov/articles/energy-report-us-wind-energy-production-and-manufacturing-surges-supporting-jobs-and



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