Small Wind Industry Set to Triple by 2015, With U.S Dominating Two-Thirds of the Market

The small wind industry is, well, small — representing about 50 MW of capacity additions each year around the world. But new project additions are set to triple by 2015, bringing yearly capacity up to 152 MW, according to a new analysis from Pike Research.

That steady scaling will allow total installed costs to fall further, declining from about $5.40 per watt on average today to $4.10 per watt in 2015.

And guess what? The U.S. will continue to dominate in manufacturing and installing those units. According to the American Wind Energy Association, two thirds of all small wind systems deployed around the world are manufactured in the U.S. And in the American market, 95% of all turbines sold are made domestically.

Small wind may not be a mega-industry, but it does provide solid economic value.

During another sluggish year for economic growth in 2010, the small wind industry (turbines under 100 kW) grew 26%, representing $139 million in sales in the U.S. alone. The strong growth in the American market was spurred by the creation of an investment tax credit for small wind systems. According to AWEA, around 80% of the value of a small wind system is created within the U.S.

Similar promotion policies in other countries are driving growth around the world, allowing U.S. manufacturers to continue shipping products overseas. These companies are seeing increasing competition from Asian producers, but many of those companies have major reliability issues. For now, American and European manufacturers dominate the market.

Because siting small wind projects is often far more complex than siting solar projects, the industry has not kept pace with the rapid pace of PV deployment. While small wind won’t catch up with solar in total number of systems deployed, it can learn from the innovative financing models emerging in the industry, writes Pike analyst Peter Asmus:

[S]mall wind turbines have not enjoyed the same level of innovation when it comes to unique financing and business models, particularly when compared with distributed solar energy. Pike Research’s analysis indicates that business models gaining traction in the small wind sector include leasing programs and utility or third-party ownership.

With consistent policies that help spur better performance-based financing models, this industry will see solid growth. Pike expects the market to grow from $255 million to $634 million. Hopefully, with a continued focus on quality and innovation, the U.S. will continue to dominate the market.

10 Responses to Small Wind Industry Set to Triple by 2015, With U.S Dominating Two-Thirds of the Market

  1. Anarchy Wolf says:

    Why is it all horizontal windmills? Vertical windmills are more compact, less dangerous for birds and can catch wind from any direction without being re-positioned.

    Also, the folks on this site really need to get over this growth obsession, read some Heinberg, the growth party is just about over.

  2. Greg Wellman says:

    Even if the goal is (as it should be) a sustainable (and thus essentially steady state) economy, we need many years of growth in the clean energy sector to reach the amount of energy this future steady state economy will need.

  3. Phil M says:

    I agree Anarchy Wolf with the vertical wind turbines at least. I think they will be the design will eventually win over against the standard type for the reasons you mention. There is also another reason they are likely to be accepted, especially in suburbia…aesthetics. There is much resistance to wind turbines in suburbia because frankly, they are not attractive. Vertical turbines are no more visually displeasing than a mobile/cell tower. Like these:

    Although I agree more with Greg in regards to growth however.

  4. Joan Savage says:

    Wind turbine farms within fifty miles of where I live are all the large kind. This has led to some reactions by local governments which have set up restrictions on new turbines, notably size, closeness to neighbor property, noise level, interference with electronics such as TV, radio or cell reception. New York SHPO also has a siting rule about what can be in view of an historic site, affecting aesthetics.
    That said, there are quite a few hills that have favorable wind conditions for turbines, and I have to wonder if “small” turbines would be more congenial for the townships.

  5. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Yes. Small Wind Turbines have a place in Energy Mix especially in developing countries.

    Small wind turbines are wind turbines which have lower energy output than large commercial wind turbines, such as those found in wind farms. These turbines may be as small as a fifty watt generator for boat, caravan, or miniature refrigeration unit. Small units often have direct drive generators, direct current output, aeroelastic blades, lifetime bearings and use a vane to point into the wind.
    Smaller scale turbines for residential scale use are available, they are usually approximately 7 to 25 feet (2.1–7.6 m) in diameter and produce electricity at a rate of 300 to 10,000 watts at their tested wind speed. Some units have been designed to be very lightweight in their construction, e.g. 16 kilograms (35 lb), allowing sensitivity to minor wind movements and a rapid response to wind gusts typically found in urban settings and easy mounting much like a television antenna. It is claimed, and a few are certified, as being inaudible even a few feet (about a meter) under the turbine.
    The majority of small wind turbines are traditional horizontal axis wind turbines, but Vertical axis wind turbines are a growing type of wind turbine in the small-wind market. These turbines, by being able to take wind from multiple dimensions, are more applicable for use at low heights, on rooftops, and in generally urbanized areas. Their ability to function well at low heights is particularly important when considering the cost of a high tower necessary for traditional turbines. All big companies in this industry, such as WePower, Urban Green Energy, Mariah Power, and Helix Wind, have reported sharply increasing sales over the previous years
    Most of the Wind Turbines installed in India under a Demonstration program in 80s were imported. But none of them worked. On the other hand an ILLITERATE person designed his own wooden blades and changed the windings of automobile generator available in the market and used the palm tree as tower in Mandapam near Rameswaram, in Tamil Nadu,India. The output is used to run a Fridge,Radio and Tube light. I saw in 1990 and 2000 it was working.

    I have designed a vertical Savonius Rotor with 30 degrees concentrator for battery charging. This costs about one third of the commercially available wind turbines and can be fabricated locally.
    The details:
    Wind Energy Expert
    2/210 First Floor
    NELLORE- 524 002
    Andhra Pradesh
    Phone: ++ 91 861 2317776
    Mobile: +91 9490125950

  6. David B. Benson says:

    An illustration only: Somebody in northrn Idaho choose a site known, at least by reputation, to be windy. He bought a $23,000 wind turbine and the same amount of solar PV. Over the course of one year, the solar PV produced more energy than the wind turbine.

    As northern Idaho is part of the inland Pacific Northwest, not known for lotsa sunshine, the result surprised me.

  7. Yvan Dutil says:

    Small windmill make no environmental sense. This is a largely documented fact. The small windmill barely manage to produce more energy over their lifetime than needed to build them! There is largely documented.

    These are absolutely no green! It is pure greenwashing.

  8. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    You are wrong Yvan Dutil. The same argument was there for Solar Cell. For example Solar panel material aluminum,copper,glass etc. are all energy intensive. In Conventional power sources like coal,it is heavily subsidised.

    As Noted Indian Scientist Late Dr.H.J.Bhabha advocated,NO POWER IS COSTLIER THAN NO POWER.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert

  9. Yvan Dutil says:

    I do not speak about money, I speak about energy. People have done the life cycle analysis of small wind turbine. It just does not make sens. Wind turbine make sens only if they are in tens of KW range, below that they are in most case energy sink.

  10. Sime says:

    “Wind turbine make sens only if they are in tens of KW range”

    Hum, don’t agree with that statement at all.

    As for US dominating 2/3 of the market… I rather suspect that won’t last long judging by what the Chinese are up to in this regard.

    Just have a look at the small wind turbine prices on eBay / Alibaba from China / Hong Kong companies £100 – £200 for 400W – 500W the postage to get it to your house is often more of a cost than the turbine.

    The idea that you can’t get £200 notes worth of power out of one of these stuck on a sensible pole in short order in the right area (not the town center) is simply nonsense, you can and there are plenty of people who are, and you can have wind 24/24 whereas you only get sun 12/24 on average.

    I pay £70 a quarter (not for much longer) for electricity so the equivalent of 2-3 months of electric bill payments and I would have a turbine add some solar panels and some batteries and my electric bill is non existent, add a few more panels over time and an inverter and the utility company is paying me and I don’t have a £70 a month outgoing anymore.

    The point is the energy is free once the kit is sourced, and if you mix and match free sources, wind, solar, heat pumps, solar water etc you can basically zero out your carbon foot print at the same time you zero out your utility bills.

    As for the “But you will never get your money back” line, two things

    Firstly – Which products did any of us ever buy where you got all or any of your money… your car, your TV, PlayStation, X-Box, PC? All of them required that you paid a load of money to obtain them and then you have to pay some corporate cash so they actually worked i.e. petrol or electricity.

    Secondly – The object is to save the planet not get your money back, if saving the planet costs us some cash then so be it, it is a good cause and the right and moral thing to do regardless of what some politicians have to say.

    The silly bit is by investing in a single deep cycle battery, and a 12v / 24v -> 240v/110v inverter and a 185W solar panel or small turbine (or both) you could run most if not all of the electrical items above for free… the term “there be nowt as stupid as folk” springs to mind.

    The idea that the small wind power market is going to double in size to $634 million by 2015 if if this kit does not actually work is bonkers, market research clearly indicates it will which means that this stuff does in fact work, and the more people who buy the technology, the better, more efficient and more reliable the technology will become.

    Off to install another solar heater which of course won’t work… NOT

    With say average of 60 clear and sunny winter days I will get 60 days (day light hours) with zero heating cost, now that is my kind of heating… the free kind, the clean kind, the moral kind.