We commented just yesterday about how the Chinese are ahead of the U.S. in things like high speed rail, and now a new report from the wind energy sector reconfirms how we continue to lag behind a growing competitor on the world stage. Just released data from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) suggests the U.S. wind industry reported its slowest quarter since 2007, while China installed nearly three times as much new power from this form of renewable energy.
The U.S. industry added just 395 megawatts (MW) of wind-powered electric generating capacity in the third quarter of 2010, according to the AWEA, with year-to-date installations being at 1,634 MW, which is said to be down 72 percent versus 2009 and at the lowest level since 2006. For 2010, by comparison, wind projects domestically are being installed at half the rate as in Europe, and a third of the rate as in China.
The AWEA blamed this downturn in the wind industry on a number of factors, including “a lack of long-term U.S. energy policies, such as a Renewable Electricity Standard, and resulting lack of certainty for business, which has the country’s utilities failing to move forward with wind build-out plans.” China and Europe, meanwhile, have put such polices into place, resulting in what is said to be more than $35 billion of expected investment in 2010 –nearly four times the investment the U.S. will see this year.
Data collected from various sources by the AWEA suggests that while wind accounted for 39 percent of new installed power capacity in 2009, versus 13 percent from coal, this trend has actually reversed for this year: in the first nine months of 2010, wind accounted for only 14 percent, versus 39 percent from coal.
“This industry has proven a number of times that when you turn these policies on, we charge out of the gate,” said Steve Lockard, CEO of TPI Composites, a former boat-building company now manufacturing large wind turbine blades, in a statement. “Our own company has become a leading employer in Newton, Iowa, population 16,000.”
Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA, said as well she believes “the best way to galvanize the industry now will be continued tax credits and a federal benchmark of 15 percent renewables in the national electricity mix by 2020.”
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