Small Wind Industry Leaders’ Perspectives
New York and California were judged the leading state markets. Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania offered attractive incentive programs, favorable political climates and good local advocacy and dealer networks.
The industry supports state polices, including incentive programs with rigorous turbine qualification and reliability requirements, annualized net-metering (for all utilities), renewable portfolio standards (with expansion to include wind in the cases of solar-specific set-asides) and improved zoning.
Off-grid and grid-connected homes dominate the demand for the <20-kW turbine systems. There has been a noticeable shift to somewhat larger turbines for the residential market. Schools and university applications experienced significant growth in a variety of turbine sizes.
Small wind turbine sales to municipalities increased as a result of favorable financing terms and incentives available
to public entities. Wind turbine sales to offset electrical loads for small businesses, commercial enterprises and hospitals
experienced growth as well, in >5-kW sizes. The farm market, long considered a potentially large opportunity for the wind industry, experienced modest growth, especially in the wind-rich Midwest, primarily deploying the 50- to 100-kW turbines.
Direct sales of small turbines to utilities are rare (utilities in Alaska being an exception). Selling via local dealers has been the preferred business model for residential turbines, but big-box retailers now market and sell small turbines as well. A number of business models were employed to serve the non-residential, small wind markets.
Europe’s feed-in tariff markets and telecommunications dominated offshore sales for North American manufacturers.The most significant barriers to small turbine installations are permitting and zoning, utility resistance, competitive economics, fragile incentive programs, financing and burdensome regulations.
Long-term, stable federal policy is critical for the continued growth of the U.S. small wind industry. The 30% investment tax credit has been a critical piece of federal policy. The USDA’s REAP and Community Facilities (Title 9009) programs (currently threatened) have been important for advancing rural applications. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s guidelines for windwildlife interactions do not distinguish between small and single-turbine applications and large-scale wind farm
installations, which is scientifically inappropriate and cost
The industry appreciates the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) continuing support of international standards and certification efforts, the SWCC, NABCEP’s Small Wind Installer Certification and the development and nurturing of four regional test centers.
The industry is concerned with the DOE’s continuing shift of wind program resources away from distributed wind and related outreach and educational activities.
The North American market is experiencing increased imports, primarily from Asia. The primary short-term concern of the North American-based industry is the quality and reliability of these products. The industry has mixed perspectives on the 2011 small
wind market climate. The residential market is softer than in 2010 because of the uncertain economy and the current public loss of focus on energy and the environment. The temporary curtailment and re-development of some key state incentive programs have also hurt 2011 sales.
Some state programs remain strong, and overseas sales are helping the overall 2011 picture. The agricultural market is growing, partly due to strong commodity prices, which farmers are re-investing into capital items on the farm. 2010 U.S. Small Wind Turbine Market Report