The grade is based on wind energy progress in 2008 towards achieving the 20% wind energy mark by year 2030 for U.S. electricity supply.
The announcement came earlier this week as AWEA released the update to achieving the Department of Energy's goal of 20% wind power by 2030 in the electricity market. DOE's full wind report, released one year ago, details the scenario greatly. At 248 pages, its quite the manual for making the 20% mark.
So let's break down the report card:
Wind energy technology, both turbine efficiency and construction methods, have improved greatly in recent years. According to the report card, this has results in turbines capturing better winds, increased availability of turbines, and improved reliability. Of the challenges remaining, reducing capital costs through better efficiencies in manufacturing may top the list.
Turbine manufacturing also landed a good grade, with the report citing over 55 new manufacturing facilities deploying in 2008. In addition, over 100 educational institutions have created programs that are specific to wind energy and renewable energy. Overall, infrastructure for more domestic manufacturing of wind energy technologies is growing rapidly. Investment challenges and providing proper training for the work force to grow serve as focal points for improvement.
Transmission and Integration: C-
Landing the lowest grade in the report, transmission is still lagging greatly. Transmission policy, mainly needed from the Federal level, is seriously lacking. Although, it seems that this issue is definitely on top of the list of priorities for policy makers and industry stakeholders alike. This is absolutely the key area that will make or break the success of achieving 20% wind energy penetration in the U.S. Keep a close eye on it.
According to the report, siting processes and strategies have improved greatly in recent years. Collaboration between industry members, policy makers, and research institutions has fostered much of this success. More public education is necessary, both for communities in close proximities to wind farms and also the public in urban areas. Greater public participation can help both wind energy developers as well as decision makers.
The report offers these conclusions:
In summary, wind farm installations were very strong in 2008, and remain somewhat strong in 2009 compared to historical levels, especially in light of the difficult environment facing the U.S. economy.
However, if installation rates do not revert quickly back to 2008 levels, the U.S. could fall behind the trajectory to its goal in the early part of the next decade. The U.S. wind industry needs a policy that will provide the near-term boost to development that we would expect from a national renewable electricity standard (REC) with strong near-term targets for renewable electricity generation.
All in all, even though the wind industry hit some bumps in late 2008 and early 2009, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Federal monies are flowing from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help encourage renewable energy implementation and corresponding research. AWEA predicts approximately 5,000 megawatts (MW) of wind energy to be installed in 2009, 20% higher than DOE's original report projected. The wind energy industry is also keeping a close eye on the status of the U.S. climate and energy bill, which should have a large impact on the future of wind energy.
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