Submitted by New Energy News Blog
Wind energy is the fastest growing electricity source in most of the world. China is expected to increase its wind energy capacity seven times over in the next five years and U.S. wind is expected to go grow four times by 2012.
Wind energy is growing so fast it is outgrowing itself. Hardware manufacturers cannot produce turbine parts and components fast enough for turbine builders to meet market demand. These supply bottlenecks could last three to five years.
And that could be the GOOD news because if the supply problems clear up sooner it will be due to slowing U.S. wind industry growth, the result of a recalcitrant minority in the U.S. Senate denying vital tax credits and driving U.S. wind businesses overseas.
The boom in wind energy comes just as the U.S. is beginning to face up to its responsibilities in the effort to mitigate global climate change. It would be a shame to see a minority of Senators stuck in the 1950s impede wind’s growth and the emissions reductions that come with it.
Tom Gray, Director of Communications, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): “…it’s worth noting that the two obstacles (subsidies and shortages) are related–the U.S.’s failure to extend incentives for wind for more than a year or two at a time has created an unstable business environment. A long-term extension of the production tax credit is needed to provide stability and encourage manufacturers to invest in new capacity.”
Wind Power: Crunch Now, Clear Skies Ahead
Keith Johnson, March 28, 2008 (Wall Street Journal)
World wind energy, which accounted for ¼ of all new electricity production built in 2007, faces short term political and manufacturing challenges but only immense growth potential in the long term.
– 2007 world wind energy capacity: 94 gigawatts.
– 2012 world wind energy capacity (BTM projection): 287 gigawatts.
– 2012 world wind energy capacity (GWEC projection): 240 gigawatts.
– BTM is based in Denmark.
– GWEC is based in Brussels.
– The U.S. presently has 16 gigawatts of wind capacity and is expected to grow to 60 gigawatts in the next five years.
– Both world experts expect the Senate to extend wind energy’s tax credits before they expire.
– A gigawatt is approximately the same as the capacity of a nuclear reactor.
– Turbine supply shortages are largely attributable to component shortages (ex: castings, ball bearings, gear-boxes)
– Arthouros Zervos, Chairman, GWEC: “Growth could be much stronger also in the future, were it not for continuing supply chain difficulties which considerably limit the growth…for the next two years…”
– Per Krogsgaard, Director, BTM: “[Turbine shortages due mainly to turbine parts shortages will likely last] for three to five more years.”